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St. Johns County Parents Push For School Mask Mandate

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MARY ALTAFFER / ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTO
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Concerned parents are pushing the St. Johns County School Board to adopt stricter mask rules days after Duval County school officials instituted an opt-out policy. 

Masks are optional in St. Johns County Schools this fall. But parent Heather Prediletto is leading the newly formed Doctors and Community Members for Masks in St Johns Schools. 

“We cannot be expected to send our kids to school as if this were 2019,” Prediletto said Thursday on WJCT News’ First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross. “And that’s what the board is expecting us to do. So the goal of the group is to make sure that this issue is on the agenda at next week’s board meeting.”

A petition on Change.org  calling for mandatory masks has garnered more than 2,600 signatures. 

“At this time last year, with cases in St. Johns County being fewer than they are now, you and the school board were implementing health and safety measures to ensure that the faculty and students remained as safe as possible for the upcoming school year,” wrote petition founder Max Martin. “Why is it now then, while cases are higher and rising, and there is a more contagious variant in the community, have you and the board decided to pull back measures?”

The School Board has so far resisted calls to put the mask mandate on the agenda at the last board meeting before the semester, which is scheduled for August 10. School begins August 16 in St Johns County. 

According to The St. Augustine Record, St. Johns County’s Flagler Hospital set a record Wednesday with 108 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, up from 98 on Monday.

Listen to the full interview with Prediletto when First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross encores Thursday, Aug. 5, at 8 p.m. on WJCT News 89-9, or listen to the show any time at WJCT.org. 

Contact Sydney Boles at sboles@wjct.org, or on Twitter at @sydneyboles.