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Superintendent recommends masks not be mandatory during next school year

Broskie: Students, faculty and staff still should be encouraged to keep mouth, nose covered

By Wesley LeBlanc wesley@opcfla.com
Posted 5/26/21

FLEMING ISLAND – The school board will soon decide whether masks will be required in the upcoming school year.

The school board gathered on May 25 for its monthly agenda workshop meeting and …

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Superintendent recommends masks not be mandatory during next school year

Broskie: Students, faculty and staff still should be encouraged to keep mouth, nose covered


Posted

FLEMING ISLAND – The school board will soon decide whether masks will be required in the upcoming school year.

The school board gathered on May 25 for its monthly agenda workshop meeting and during it, Superintendent David Broskie made the recommendation to the board masks no longer be required in schools for the 2021-22 school year. The board did not make an official vote regarding this recommendation, however, as it will formally do that during its July meeting after it votes to advertise this change during its June meeting.

“With the increase in vaccination opportunities, we have more individuals that can get vaccinated...and I’m going to make a recommendation that face masks be optional and not mandatory beginning June 14, which is the start of the Summer School program,” Broskie said.

The school board seemed to agree with Broskie’s recommendation but won’t formally vote until the July school board meeting. Broskie said even if masks aren’t mandatory as they were this past year, they’ll still be encouraged as will other safety protocols.

“I have no doubt Florida has led the way in reopening schools [in the country],” Broskie said. “I have little doubt Clay has led the way for Florida. That doesn’t mean there weren’t bumps along the way, but our bumps compared to other [districts] were minor, minor, minor rumble strips along the way.”

“My goal as Superintendent is to return the school system back to the way it was...a return to normalcy. Keep in mind, our top priority will always be the safety of our students and staff,” he said.

Broskie said while his goal is to return school to pre-COVID conditions as soon as possible, actually doing that won’t happen overnight. The district will take a “phased-in approach that makes sense based on common sense.”

Broskie also said masks are not required at the upcoming senior high school graduation ceremonies.

Other COVID-related changes for the upcoming school year include the end of OneClay Online, which was the district’s own online school platform. Broskie said this is ending because the state is not going to fund it this year.

“The OneClay Online virtual platform we had this year won’t be there next year,” he said. “Simply put, the state is not funding it. The ‘Gold Standard’ for education is physical in-person education with a qualified teacher that cares about your child and I look forward to welcoming OneClay Online students back into our schools.”

Despite the possible removal of a mandatory mask requirement, Broskie said the health department will still perform contact tracing and quarantine on behalf of the school district, which speaks to Broskie’s commitment to continued safety despite changes to things like masks.

“I think...going back to school as normal as possible...should be everyone’s goal,” he said. “A return to normalcy is what our community strives for us to do. In order to do that, the first and most controversial piece of that is the use of face coverings. I’m making a recommendation that they’re optional, but still recommended.

“Those that want to wear a mask can feel free to do so and will be protected to wear one. Those that don’t...given the fact that those 12 years and older have the opportunity to get vaccinated...can do so, and it makes sense and it’s rational. I believe this plan [makes sense and is rational], too.”