For the second time in two days, a school in the Duval County School District will go online because of COVID-19.
Fletcher Middle School is moving online through Sept. 2 starting Thursday, reports Action News Jax, after cases at the beachside school hit critical mass, which means cases and close contacts exceeded 20% of the student population.
The principal called students’ homes to let families know that, in the event they didn’t have their “school technology” with them, arrangements would be made.
“Students should have their school technology with them, but if they do not, please call the school in the morning and we will make arrangements to ensure your student has technology to connect to online instruction,” the message said.
On Wednesday, a school at the other end of Duval County made a similar call. Baldwin Junior-Senior High went remote, as WJXT reported at the time.
The district’s COVID-19 dashboard shows 943 cases district-wide at this writing, and these so far are the only two closures.
The district currently operates under a mask policy with parental opt-outs, but on Tuesday night, the School Board passed a rule change that requires a doctor’s note to skip the face covering. In an attempt to give parents time to secure such documentation, the board agreed to push back the start date for the tightened policy until after Labor Day.
The indoor K-12 mask mandate passed by a 5-2 vote after a nearly eight-hour meeting. The rule, effective Sept. 7, applies to schools, school events, and transportation for 90 days.
Ahead of the vote, prominent doctors warned of the need for a mask mandate with a more contagious virus that is more dangerous to young people than previous iterations.
Dr. Sunil Joshi, president of the Duval County Medical Society Foundation, argued in favor of masks as a mitigation measure with hospitals still at “critical mass.”
Dr. Jeffrey Goldhagen said this is a different challenge altogether, describing the delta variant as “COVID-21.”
Dr. Mobeen Rathore said a mandate would be “two weeks too late.”