Duval County School Board votes 5-2 to require masks for students

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — 9:55 p.m. UPDATE:

After eight hours of debate, the Duval County School Board voted 5-2, passing emergency orders for COVID-19 mitigation measures. Those measures include requiring students to wear a mask inside schools, but can take them off if they’re participating in sports.

The mandate will begin on Tuesday, Sept. 7 and will be in place for 90 days. Students can only opt out for medical reasons.

Parents who want their child to opt out will need to get a doctor’s note showing that their child has a health condition preventing them from wearing a mask.

Read more here.

ORIGINAL STORY:

The Duval County School Board is holding an emergency meeting at the Cline Auditorium.

The meeting is addressing current COVID-19 mitigation measures in place at Duval County Public Schools.

You can watch the meeting HERE on the DCPS website.

It began at 2:00 p.m. and had a sizable turnout -- with 68 people who signed up for public comment.

During the meeting, the Duval County School Board had the opportunity to ask four doctors questions regarding COVID-19.

Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene also made a presentation about the impact COVID-19 has had on our area schools.

At the time this article was published, there are now 815 COVID-19 cases, according to the Duval County COVID-19 dashboard. In all 704 of those cases are student cases and 111 of those cases are staff. The dashboard is updated Monday-Friday at 8:00 p.m.

Right now, masks are required in Duval County Public Schools, unless a parent chooses to opt-out.

According to the latest data from the school district, there are currently 9% of parents who have chosen to opt-out, that breaks down to 9,602 students.

School board member, Darryl Willie of District 4, requested the meeting in the following statement:

Dr. Greene and Chair Andersen,

Based on this updated data and the lag/response time of DOH, and the “grave concern” from our Superintendent. It is indeed time to come back together to discuss our safety measures. To date, we have a quarter of the cases (in 2 weeks) that we had the entire 2020-21 school year.

Per 2.26(1)(g), I am requesting an emergency board meeting (Monday, Tuesday at the latest) to address an issue that is clearly an emergency, as every day, our students and employees are becoming sick with a life-threatening virus, and an emergency meeting is needed to discuss this data and alter or change any policy that could help mitigate these cases.

Policy 2.26(1)(g) defines an “emergency meeting” as a meeting called without at least 48 hour notice to the public for a particular issue when the Chairperson or Board members determine that an issue is an emergency or urgent public necessity. Unlike a special meeting, the emergency meeting section does not address the need for a majority of board members to request the meeting and only requires the Board Chair or Board members (more than one member) to determine that an issue is an emergency.

Chair Andersen and board to ensure compliance with sunshine laws, please do not reply all to this email communication.

Governor DeSantis signed an Executive Order prohibiting mask mandates in school districts. It reinforces the stance that every parent should have the right to choose what they believe what they believe is best for their child and choose whether their children wear masks.

Right now, we are waiting to learn how the school board will decide to proceed.

Stay with us on Action News Jax for the latest details tonight at 10 and 11.

Read the meeting notice below: