DCPS mask update requires faculty to wear masks for 30 days starting Aug. 2

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Duval County Public Schools has announced it will require its faculty to wear masks for 30 days into the new school year.

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In an email sent to faculty this evening, Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Diana Greene said she had hoped for a traditional school opening.

But, COVID-19 cases are soaring, even affecting DCPS employees.

“Sadly, our own DCPS family has been tragically impacted by the loss of several employees over the past two weeks,” said Greene.

Now, all employees, vendors, and visitors must wear a mask in all schools and district facilities for 30 days starting Aug. 2.

“I almost felt in that letter, just the disappointment like, we really thought we’d be further ahead, and now we’re having to go back,” said Monique Tookes, a mother of nine who currently has six kids in DCPS schools. She’s also heavily involved as a parent leader on several school advisory councils.

“As a parent, my husband and I have chosen to have our children wear a mask,” she said.

And in fact, the superintendent wanted to require all students to do the same until vaccines become available to them.

But that changed when Gov. Ron DeSantis announced he was signing an executive order letting parents decide.

“We don’t have mandates, we won’t,” he said during a news conference on Friday.

“It’s definitely a personal family issue in how families deal with it,” Tookes acknowledged.

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She also understands the position the superintendent is in.

“While you might not be able to do this, you can do that. And that’s making sure adults are masked - at least for 30 days,” Tookes pointed out.

And as she prepares her kids for the school year, she doesn’t want her kids to focus so much on masks, reminding them, “You’re there to learn. Period.”

The district will also be working on opening up new vaccination sites at some schools, and employees will be given time to get vaccinated.