Duval County Schools talk about mask policy

Last week, the Florida Board of Education determined Duval County Public Schools is not in compliance with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Duval County School Board will hold a special board meeting Monday to discuss the suspension criteria of the facial covering emergency rule.

The meeting will be held in the Cline Auditorium at the Administration Building at 1701 Prudential Drive at 2:30 p.m.  

Last week, the Florida Board of Education determined Duval County Public Schools is not in compliance with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order allowing the ‘sole discretion’ of parents or guardians to opt their children out of mask wearing, despite DCPS allowing a medical opt out.

The board approved withholding funds equal to 1/12 of the salaries of each board member and ordered the district to come into compliance within 48 hours.

RELATED: State BOE orders Duval Schools to allow parent opt-out of mask mandate within 48 hours

In his opening remarks, Florida Education Commissioner said, “The school must allow for a parent or legal guardian of the student to opt out of wearing a face covering or mask at the parent or legal guardian’s sole discretion. Based upon the information I have received, none of the districts before you today allow parents to opt out of school district masking mandates at their sole discretion.”

During her five-minute remarks, Duval County Schools Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene told board members of her frustration with proper contact tracing, “What is the clear inability of the Florida Department of Health to complete contact tracing, case investigations and timely notifications to impacted families resulting in only 13% of reported cases actually being completed.”

She also told the Florida Board of Education the district has had 10 staff members die from COVID-19 since July.

“School districts are able to enforce rules that ensure that we are protecting the safety and welfare of students and that are narrowly focused,” Greene said.

She explained the district currently has more than 2,800 cases, surpassing the 2,498 cases of all of last year.

RELATED: Epidemiologists, health department raise questions about Nikki Fried’s school COVID data

First Coast News received the following statements from School Board Chairwoman Elizabeth Andersen and Superintendent Diana Greene regarding the board’s decision. 

“We have a responsibility as constitutional officers to ensure Duval County Public Schools provides all students with a safe environment for learning. While we are cautiously optimistic about the community transmission trends in Duval County, we must remain vigilant in fulfilling that responsibility.

“The outcome of today’s state board action was expected; it was just another action in the series of events that led our school board to feel compelled to join the petition filed with the Division of Administrative Hearings. We look forward to the opportunity to present our case in that forum.”

The board also found Alachua County Public Schools is non-compliant and imposed the same sanctions as Duval County Public Schools.

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