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Jacksonville Parents, Healthcare Professionals Call For 30-Day City-Wide Mask Mandate

Members of the Duval Schools Pandemic Solutions Team rally for a mask mandate ahead of Tuesday night's Duval County Public Schools Board meeting.
Marla Bryant
/
Duval Schools Pandemic Solutions Team
Members of the Duval Schools Pandemic Solutions Team rally for a mask mandate ahead of Tuesday night's Duval County Public Schools Board meeting.

Some Jacksonville parents and healthcare professionals are pushing for a city-wide mask mandate as the number of COVID-19 cases surges locally and across the country due to the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.

The Duval Schools Pandemic Solutions Team, which has more than 3,600 members, is calling for a 30-day mask mandate throughout Jacksonville in response to the school board allowing parents to opt out of masking their children.

Related: School Board: Duval County Parents Must Opt Out Of Masks

Marla Bryant, a co-founder of the Duval Schools Pandemic Solutions Team, said action at City Hall would give the Duval County School District the cover it needs, in light of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ threat to withhold state funds for school districts that enact mask mandates.

“At the end of the day, parents will go to the trouble to fill the paperwork out and they will opt out and then the virus will continue to spread, leading us to be needing quarantines and school closures, which is what we’re trying to avoid,” she said. “Of course, the most important thing we're trying to avoid is having kids and staff people at the schools get sick and take it back home to their families while this virus continues to rage out of control.”

Related: Why Should Kids Wear Masks In Schools?

Bryant said her group is already lobbying Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and members of the City Council, though Curry has said he will not enact a new mask mandate and DeSantis signed a law in May giving him the power to invalidate local emergency public health measures like mask mandates.

Regardless, Bryant said she and other members of the Duval Schools Pandemic Solutions Team will continue to advocate for a mask mandate leading up to the start of school in Duval County on Tuesday, August 10.

The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that all students and adults wear masks in schools to slow the spread of the highly contagious delta variant of coronavirus.

Brendan Rivers can be reached at brivers@wjct.org, 904-358-6396 or on Twitter at @BrendanRivers.