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Jeff Foster is like many teachers in South Florida, concerned about the start of the school year with COVID-19 cases on the rise.
“There’s a combination of concern, fear, trepidation, whatever word you want to use,” Foster said. “We’re going to be in an enclosed space with 30 kids for an hour and a half at a time with four different groups.”
It’s a thought that makes Foster uneasy with COVID-19 cases back on the rise and the battle over face masks in schools starting again.
Foster is a teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and has a pre-existing heart condition.
“I’d like to have everybody in masks until we get control of this Delta variant,” he said.
The concern now causing the state’s Department of Education to hold an emergency meeting Friday. The agenda includes a proposal to allow parents to use vouchers to transfer their student from a public school, with a mask mandate, to a private school.
It’s an idea Foster doesn’t think will work if passed.
“You’re uprooting your child really late in the game,” he said.
Neither does Rebecca, a parent in Broward County, who didn’t want her full name included in this story.
“Although I haven’t heard it in its entirety, it’s probably ill-conceived,” Rebecca said. “It sounds like a knee-jerk reaction.”
On Friday, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order banning schools from making it mandatory to wear face coverings. The order came two days after Broward County Public Schools voted to keep their mask mandate in place.
“We’ve seen this Delta variant start to flare up over the last month in Florida, and now everyone seems to be scrambling like we didn’t know this could possibly happen,” Foster said.
Although Rebecca prefers to send her daughter to school without a mask, she says vouchers won’t solve the problem.
She says parents should be the only ones to decide if their child should wear a mask or not.
“Parents can be responsible for their own children,” she said. “If somebody feels more comfortable putting a mask on your child, by all means, do what you feel is best for your child.”
The emergency meeting will take place Friday at 11 a.m.