Masks and virtual learning on parents’ minds ahead of school year

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Despite parents’ & doctors’ pleas, masks optional successful Northeast Florida schools

Masks and virtual learning connected  parents’ minds up  of schoolhouse  yearMasks and virtual learning connected parents’ minds up of schoolhouse year

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With conscionable implicit 2 weeks until astir Florida students caput backmost to school, concerns implicit what COVID-19 information measures volition beryllium successful spot are erstwhile again connected parents’ minds.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has opposed look disguise requirements successful schools, adjacent arsenic the delta variant spreads passim the state, which makes up 20 percent of each caller COVID-19 infections nationwide. DeSantis has signaled that he’ll call a peculiar legislative league if the national authorities imposes a mandate requiring masks to beryllium worn successful school.

The deficiency of look disguise requirements and virtual learning options, combined with the state’s lax attack to COVID-19 protocols, has been a root of unease among section parents. Some of them held a rally Sunday evening successful Jacksonville, calling for Duval County Public Schools to reinstate a disguise mandate.


It’s peculiarly concerning for parents of simple school-aged students, who aren’t yet eligible to person the COVID-19 vaccine, arsenic their children get acceptable for classes to resume connected Aug. 10.

RELATED: Some parents privation DCPS to necessitate masks successful school | Masks ‘strongly recommended’ for unvaccinated students | Pediatricians suggest everyone deterioration masks successful school

A Duval County Public Schools subject teacher who spoke with News4Jax connected the information of anonymity expressed concerns astir the mode the territory is handling its information protocols for the upcoming schoolhouse year.


The teacher — we’ll telephone her Jill — believes the territory is making a mistake clinging to relaxed rules, which strongly urge but don’t necessitate masks.

“I deliberation it’s a unspeakable idea,” Jill told News4Jax Monday. “I bash recognize taking down the dividers because, honestly, they did nothing. Air flows astir them. The lone happening they did was benignant of punctual students possibly to support separate.”

Even though Jill has been vaccinated against COVID-19, and the immense bulk of caller infections are among the unvaccinated, she said she and her household inactive program to deterioration their masks portion astatine school. That includes her precocious schooler and her simple schoolhouse student.

TABLE: View a district-by-district summary of disguise policies & virtual options below

“If for nary different crushed than the information that my simple schooler cannot get vaccinated yet,” Jill said.


Not each families consciousness the aforesaid way. Some, similar Gov. DeSantis, are afloat opposed to making masks mandatory for students.

But parents who spoke with News4Jax connected Monday expressed akin concerns to those shared by Jill. They consciousness immoderate of the decisions being made are being done for political, not practical, reasons.

“We’re looking astatine a satellite wherever lawsuit numbers are going up, hospitalizations are going up, patients are getting younger and younger. To me, it feels similar not a azygous kid astatine the applicable simple level is vaccinated,” Meridith Anzulis, a Duval County parent, said. “If we travel the proposal and practices of the CDC and the Department of Health, you disguise indoors. If you’re not vaccinated, you disguise indoors.”

Parents considering options for FallParents considering options for Fall

Another root of interest for parents is the deficiency of region and virtual learning options.

As cases peaked astatine the tallness of the pandemic, galore families elected to person their students larn done Duval HomeRoom, the district’s virtual learning option. That won’t beryllium a prime this twelvemonth since it was discontinued astatine the extremity of past year.


One enactment successful each Florida schoolhouse territory is MyDistrict Virtual School, the virtual enactment that was disposable to families earlier the pandemic. For astir districts, it’s a section subdivision of Florida Virtual School, an online and self-paced learning level not tied to immoderate circumstantial school.

In Duval County, the territory offers what’s called “Duval Virtual Instruction Academy,” arsenic good arsenic “DVIA HomeRoom,” a somewhat altered mentation of the aforesaid programme that includes immoderate unrecorded acquisition from teachers successful real-time. That 2nd enactment is lone for simple students.

News4Jax asked schoolhouse districts passim Northeast Florida however galore students person enrolled successful virtual options truthful far. Three districts responded by our deadline:

  • Duval County: 1,369 students are enrolled successful Duval Virtual Instruction Academy, including 250 successful DVIA HomeRoom. That’s astir 1% of the district’s full pupil population.

  • Clay County: 260 students are enrolled full-time successful virtual learning and much than 1,000 others are enrolled part-time. That’s a tiny fraction of the district’s 38,000 oregon truthful students.

  • Flagler County: 301 students of the district’s astir 13,000 pupil colonisation are enrolled successful virtual learning.

Parents who spoke with News4Jax, adjacent those who enactment stringent COVID-19 information protocols, are hesitant to enroll their students successful a virtual learning format. They judge their students volition person a amended acquisition by attending schoolhouse successful person.


“Like immoderate parent, I privation my kid to beryllium successful schoolhouse successful person,” Matt Hartley, who has 2 students successful Duval County schools, said. “We’ve heard it from pediatricians, you know, experts saying it’s amended for our kids to beryllium successful school. If we tin bash that safely with masks, wherever each of our kids are masked, past that’s what we should do, truthful they tin person the schoolroom experience.”

Hartley said helium hasn’t fixed up anticipation of a time wherever his children tin spell to schoolhouse without masks, but for now, helium feels it’s the close move.

“It’s the happening that volition support them safe,” helium said. “And it’s the happening that volition support schoolhouse benignant of moving forward.”

District-by-district breakdown

DistrictMask policyVirtual learning
DuvalOptionalDVIA & DVIA HomeRoom
St. JohnsOptionalSt. Johns Virtual School
ClayOptionalClay Virtual Academy
NassauOptionalMyDistrict Virtual School
BakerOptionalMyDistrict Virtual School
BradfordOptionalMyDistrict Virtual School
PutnamOptionalMyDistrict Virtual School
ColumbiaOptionalMyDistrict Virtual School
UnionOptionalMyDistrict Virtual School
BrantleyOptionalGeorgia Virtual Learning
CamdenRequiredGeorgia Virtual Learning
CharltonOptionalGeorgia Virtual Learning
GlynnOptionalGeorgia Virtual Learning
PierceOptionalGeorgia Virtual Learning
WareOptionalGeorgia Virtual Learning

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