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Duval administrators forced to fill in as classroom subs during COVID explosion

Jon Super

Hundreds of Duval school district staff will be forced to leave their posts to cover for teachers and office staff sidelined by COVID-19, according to an email Friday from Superintendent Diana Greene.

Almost a hundred Duval school staff reported having COVID this week. Forty-six new cases were reported on Friday alone, the highest number on a single day since the start of the school year.

COVID cases are skyrocketing in Duval County and across the state. COVID hospitalizations have more than tripled in some local hospitals since last month.

"It is my sincere hope that the number of COVID-19 cases will decline by February, and we will be able to resume normal work schedules," Greene wrote.

Administrators are being told to fill in for absences once a week starting next week. District specialists are being assigned to work in schools for two of the next four weeks.

Greene herself is on one of the new COVID Admin Emergency Response Teams to fill in for absent teachers and staff, according to her email.

Unlike during the Delta spike last semester, the district is not implementing a mask mandate for students. There were almost 200 new COVID cases among students this week, according to the district.

Employees and visitors are required to wear face coverings, but the district hasn't passed a student mask mandate because of a new law passed during the state Legislature's emergency session in November.

The district previously defied the state on its emergency rule against mask mandates, and the state withheld more than $22,000 in response. The money was distributed after the district lifted its mask mandate.

The Legislature then formalized the state's emergency rule as a law.

Claire joined WJCT as a reporter in August 2021. She was previously the local host of NPR's Morning Edition at WUOT in Knoxville, Tennessee. During her time in East Tennessee, her coverage of the COVID pandemic earned a Public Media Journalists’ Association award for investigative reporting. You can reach Claire at (904) 250-0926 or on Twitter @ClaireHeddles.