SJC mom moving out of state after growing frustrations with mask guidelines

ST. JOHNS, Fla. —

School employees in St. Johns County (SJC) will now have to wear a mask to class. This became effective on August 25, 2021. Students are still exempt.

Jennifer Hyams has five kids, two attend SJC schools. She said she put her house on the market about a month ago, after finding out there would not be a mask mandate for the 2021/2022 school year.

“I have a 7th grader and a senior,” Hyams said. “If masks had been mandated, I wouldn’t have even considered leaving. We moved here specifically for the school district.”

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, some parents gathered outside the school district office with anti-mask signs.

Action News Jax first showed a video of the rally on our noon newscast. Those parents said they hope the school board continues to let their kids go mask-free.

We spoke with an 8th-grade teacher about the new mandate.

“The presence of a mask mandate for us and not for them, I think really speaks to how teachers are valued, or the lack of value that we’ve put in our teachers,” She said. We are not revealing her name, as she fears she could lose her job for speaking out.

She said about 40% of her students wear masks in class. Some, she said, are vaccinated and choose not to wear it. But, there are some who are not vaccinated and do not mask up.

“The numbers for kids being out on quarantine are absolutely unacceptable,” The teacher said. “It kind of breaks my heart that they can and will get sick.”

As of August 24, 2021, there are 316 students who are positive for COVID-19 across St. Johns County schools, according to the district’s COVID-19 tracker. There are 1,199 students quarantining. As for staff, 87 employees are positive for the virus and 42 are quarantining.

For more context, there are 45,643 students and 5,298 employees. Less than 1% of students are positive and about 2.6% are quarantining. About 1.6% of employees are currently positive for COVID-19. Less than 1% of staff are in quarantine.

To see the number of cases at your child’s school, click here.

As for Jennifer Hyams, she is unsure what she will do about her son who is entering his senior year.

“It’s his senior year, and he’s kind of being robbed of that,” Hyams said.