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St. Johns Superintendent Allows School Employee Mask Mandate To Expire

Photo of woman cleaning a table in a classroom
JON SUPER / ASSOCIATED PRESS
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The St. Johns County School District’s mask mandate for employees and visitors expired Thursday, and Superintendent Tim Forson has not moved to extend it. 

The superintendent issued the 30-day mandate last month, as COVID cases were spiking statewide. Since then, the case rate has fallen, but the rate of people testing positive for COVID in St. Johns County remains almost 16% — higher than Duval’s 10.6% positivity. 

The district has not implemented a mask mandate for students or formally discussed it at school board meetings this school year. Dozens of parents have spoken both for and against a student mask mandate during public comment periods at these meetings. 

The St. Johns superintendent also appealed to parents this week to apply for the district’s 66 job vacancies. In an email Tuesday, Forson said the district has a high staff vacancy rate. 

“Not unlike school systems across the country, we are faced with the need to fill positions at a higher rate than ever before,” Forson wrote in the email to parents. “These are critical positions within our district.”

Most vacancies are for classroom aides, custodial workers and food service workers. According to a presentation during a school board meeting earlier this month, the district has also been having trouble finding school bus attendants, sometimes causing delays. 

As of Wednesday, 30 employees in the St. Johns School district had COVID. On the same date last school year, just 6 employees did.

Contact Claire Heddles at cheddles@wjct.org, (904) 250 - 0926, or on Twitter at @claireheddles.