DCPS mask mandate goes into effect Tuesday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Duval County Public Schools will require students to wear masks beginning Tuesday. The policy is set to stay in effect for at least 90 days. This comes after the school board voted for a mask mandate, defying Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The parents Action News Jax talked to agree that DCPS made the right decision. With two students in elementary school, Amanda Hightower’s hands are full.

RELATED: How it started vs. how it’s going: DCPS’ mask mandate

“I am excited about the mask mandate starting,” she said. “My children have actually been wearing masks all year.”

Last year, her family did Duval Homeroom virtual classes to avoid exposure to COVID-19.

Now with the mask mandate, she feels confident getting the kids back to school in person.

“I hope that it helps lower the spread so that we can get back to normal, so there’s a lower chance of schools having to go completely virtual,” Hightower added.

DCPS becomes one of several school districts to defy the governor. His executive order allows schools to let students opt out of wearing masks with a parent’s approval. DCPS has decided the only way a student can get out of wearing a mask is if they have a doctor’s note, however.

“I’m really proud. I think our superintendent has done a great job through all of this, and I think our school board definitely made the right choice,” Hightower said.

Samara Itami understands masks can be a nuisance to kids, but she agrees it’s up to school districts to decide what’s best for students.

“Hopefully it won’t be forever, only during the times where COVID is spiking,” Itami said.

The Florida Board of Education sent a letter to DCPS saying if the district does not obey the governor, it’ll lose funding — including salaries for board members.

READ: Florida Education Association Safe Schools Report: COVID-19 pushing districts to a “breaking point”

Still both Hightower and Itami feel DCPS is making the right call.

A judge ruled in favor of school districts that want to impose mask mandates. The governor has appealed that ruling.