DeLand, FL - The school year begins tomorrow (August 16) in Volusia County with a mask mandate for all staff and a mask optional policy for students. The results of a staff survey show the majority want mandatory face coverings for everyone.
Volusia United Educators (VUE) President Elizabeth Albert said by following last year’s mandatory face-covering rules, the effects of COVID were minimized. She said that the ban against making face coverings mandatory issued by Governor Ron DeSantis is an obstacle to local control and is completely outside of his scope of jurisdiction. "This is a local decision that our constitutional officers, school board members, should be making. I feel it's highly inappropriate and I think that he is jeopardizing the health and safety of everyone who works and attends public schools."
Dr. Ronald "Scott" Fritz issued a mandatory face-covering policy for staff last Wednesday (August 11) which includes both masks and face shields. Albert said the policy will be reviewed in 30 days.
Last Friday, the U.S. Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardoza, sent a letter addressed to both Governor and Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran, emphasizing the importance of allowing school district leaders to make decisions that ensure safety for their students. Albert said the letter also stated that local school districts may use federal COVID-19 relief funds to make up for any action the state of Florida may make to withhold pay from superintendents and school board members in response to classroom mask mandates. "When the U.S. Secretary of Education feels that there's a need to send a letter directly to the Governor about how to do the business of public schools, I feel that it is an embarrassment to all of us who live in the great state of Florida, that someone from D.C. has to intervene on our behalf. It seems to me, that our elected officials should prioritize what's best for the citizens of the state. We know that when we're in a public health crisis we should be taking every precaution and using every tool and resource to make sure that we're all safe."