Starting Monday, Duval County Public Schools employees required to wear masks for 30 days

News4Jax reporter Jennifer Ready reports that Gov. DeSantis won't allow mask mandates for students but the district is requiring masks for all adults at schools for the next 30 days.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – All Duval County Public Schools employees, district vendors and visitors will be required to wear masks or face coverings in the district’s schools and facilities for a period of 30 days, starting Monday, according to an email Friday from Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene.

Following the 30-day period, masks will be optional for district and school-based employees, the email states.

Greene noted in the email that DCPS was prepared to include students in the 30-day requirement before Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that he was barring school districts from requiring students to wear masks when classes resume.

“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 wrote.

The superintendent said the district will continue to strongly encourage students to wear masks.

During the 30 days, DCPS will partner with the Florida Department of Health in Duval County to offer COVID-19 vaccinations to eligible students and employees at secondary school sites, Greene’s email states.

Here is the full email:

Shannon Russell Hinds is an 11th grade English teacher at Sandlewood High School. She says she feels frustrated after reading this email.

“When you look at the duties of the teacher, legally, the first thing that it talks about is we are tasked with protecting our students, but you’re telling me I can’t really protect my students, let alone myself because we can’t make them wear masks?,” said Hinds.

Bradley Fisher, who teaches theater at Andrew Jackson High School, also weighed in.

“I think it’s deeply irresponsible,” said Fisher.

Fisher believes students will spread the virus as much as adults, so everyone should be required to wear masks in order to go back to school.

“I know nobody wants the delta variant to be true to go through the pandemic again, but it’s here and it’s ravishing our community,” said Fisher.

Dr. Maria Mora, a pediatrician at Middleburg Pediatrics, said students should be wearing masks along with the teachers.

“The kids are spreading all over the place. Even in my office it’s difficult to keep them with a mask on. We’re going to see a big hike in infections in pediatric offices,” said Mora.

She said she’s been seeing an increase in pediatric patients getting the delta variant, so people need to get vaccinated and wear masks.

“I’m on call this weekend and this weekend I’ve already had 5 calls of COVID positive elementary school kids and teenagers,” said Mora.

About the Author:

Brie Isom joined the News4JAX team in January 2021 after spending three years covering news in South Bend, Indiana.