Classes begin in less than two weeks in Duval County amid rapid shifts in the coronavirus pandemic and the response from local, state and federal governments.
Duval County Public Schools last week changed its guidance on face masks from “optional” to “strongly recommended” after the the American Academy of Pediatrics urged even vaccinated children and staff to cover their faces; The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending the same.
“Available data show that the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection in children is considerably less than to adults,” said DCPS Superintendent Diana L. Greene in a statement shared with WJCT News. “We will continue to consult with local and state officials to monitor the spread of COVID-19 in the community and make modifications to administrative processes when required and permitted to do so.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signalled he would ban face masks in schools if any school district moves to make them mandatory.
For families who are concerned about exposure to the virus, virtual options are available.
Students in kindergarten through 12th grade can enroll in Duval Virtual Instruction Academy. That’s the district’s online “asynchronous” instruction, meaning students work at their own pace.
Duval HomeRoom, a virtual option that was available last school year due to an emergency order, is no longer being offered, as that order has expired.
Students in kindergarten through 5th grade can also enroll in the district’s synchronous online instruction, where students learn together following a daily schedule.
Enrollment for those options is available through August 9. A spokesperson for DCPS did not respond by our deadline to questions about how many students have opted for virtual learning this year.
The charter school San Jose Cyber Academy, which was approved by the Duval County School Board in May, is also offering it’s own tuition-free virtual instruction to students in Duval County and across Florida.
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