JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An email Friday from the Duval County school superintendent states that all school employees, district vendors and visitors will be required to wear face coverings for a period of 30 days starting Monday.
Dr. Diana Greene, the superintendent, notes in her email that the Duval County School District was prepared to require the same for all of its students before Gov. Ron DeSantis’ announcement earlier in the day.
“The governor announced today that he will be issuing an executive order to prevent school districts from mandating mask requirements for students. Had it not been for this announcement, this 30-day mandate would be applied to all PreK-12 students as well and would extend for elementary students when indoors until such time as vaccinations are readily available and families can elect to have their student vaccinated,” Greene writes.
While speaking in Cape Coral inside a restaurant of supporters, DeSantis said the executive order would protect “the rights of parents to make this decision about wearing masks for their children.”
“There will be no school closures. There will be no restrictions and no mandates in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said. “Floridians have been and will remain free to choose what’s best for themselves and their families.”
The superintendent said the district will continue to strongly encourage students to wear masks. She writes that “several employees” have died over the past two weeks after contracting the virus.
During the 30 days, DCPS will partner with the Health Department to offer vaccinations to eligible students and employees at secondary school sites, Greene’s email says.
Alyssa Key is a parent of two children who attend school in Duval County. She said her father died last Tuesday from the virus.
“I don’t know if 30 days is adequate,” Key said.
She believes that right now, all children should wear a mask in school.
“Not every child knows which child in their class is immunocompromised,” Key said. “Some children don’t know they are and the only way they find out is from COVID.”
Tonya Monegan, a grandmother, agreed.
“People are getting sick and you got some kids whose parents are getting sick and they might not get the vaccine,” Monegan said.
Monique Sampson is a sixth grade history teacher at Arlington Middle School. She was relieved to learn there will be a temporary mask mandate for teachers, but she’d hoped students would be included.
“It’s something that rocks me to my core, to think that one or two of my students could possibly die from this and that’s one or two too many,” Sampson said.
Following the 30-day period, masks will be optional for staff and visitors.
Here is the full email from Greene:
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