Jacksonville teachers protest reopening plans for Duval County Public Schools

Enforcing student mask-wearing

JACKSONVILLE. Fla. — Dozens of teachers gathered Monday for a rally across the street from Maxwell House on Bay Street, protesting the plans to reopen Jacksonville schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Duval County Public Schools’ Board voted in favor of the proposed reopening plans last Thursday by a count of 5-2, which would delay the start of schools to Aug. 10.

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The plan includes reopening measures for in-person brick and mortar, hybrid options depending on grade level, and Duval HomeRoom and Duval Virtual Instruction Academy as options for families who prefer to go the virtual learning route from day one due to COVID-19-related concerns.

The organizers of the event, “Duval for a Safe Return to Campus,” and the “Duval Schools Pandemic Solutions Team,” say they’re demanding the following the criteria are met before schools are open, without the presence of a vaccine:

  • There have been at least 14 days of zero reported new local community cases.
  • Immediate reinstatement of Phase One phase one by Mayor Lenny Curry until 14 consecutive days of declining cases with City Council Ordinance to put fines on failure to comply with city mask mandate.
  • Rigorous testing and tracing: Widespread, accessible and frequent screen, testing, tracing, and isolation of new cases.
  • Masks added to the DCPS Student Code of Conduct as part of the dress code violation for noncompliance.
  • Immediate school shutdown for positive tests; students not permitted to return without proof of negative tests.
  • Thorough protection and prevention: rigorous cleaning and disinfection, proper ventilation, effective personal protective equipment (PPE) provided for all students and staff, and remote work and learning for the most vulnerable students and staff.
  • Consistent social distancing: Student and staff schedules are designed to ensure small, stable groups with at least 6 feet between all people at all times.
  • Duval Homeroom online for the first nine weeks for all K-12 students and teachers.