Spectrum News 13 | By Emily Braun | August 24, 2021
BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — As Orange County Public Schools implemented a new mask mandate Tuesday, teachers in Brevard County called on their own school board to do the same.
What You Need To Know
- The Brevard County School Board meet for a regular meeting Tuesday
- Members of the Brevard Federal of Teachers is calling for increased COVID-19 mitigation in schools
- The district has reported more than 600 new COVID-19 cases and 3,000 quarantines for the week
This week, Brevard County Schools has reported more than 600 new coronavirus cases.
In addition to a universal mask mandate, the Brevard Federation of Teachers wants the Brevard County School Board to move all school events — like student assemblies and open houses — online.
The union is also asking for an increase in social distancing in classrooms, reworking lunch schedules to increase social distancing and greater promotion of vaccinations.
These things need to happen, they say, because the high numbers of student quarantines (currently at 3,000 for the week), cases (currently at more than 600 for the week) and the current COVID-19 policies, are not sustainable.
“Teachers are the lifeblood of our schools,” said Vanessa Skipper, vice president of the Brevard Federation of Teachers.
Right now, though, Skipper said teachers can’t be the lifeblood with so many empty seats in the classroom.
“We need to make sure that we’re able to get those students tested quickly, so if they are negative, they can get back to school in their classrooms and in front of their teachers so that they can learn,” she said.
One thing people on both sides of the mask debate seemed to agree on was a concern over the number of quarantined students and staff.
“I saw a post today of a mom struggling with their kid because they have missed two weeks of Algebra 2,” said Katie Delaney, who spoke at Tuesday’s School Board meeting. “Imagine missing two weeks of Algebra 2 … you might as well fail the kid now,”
Skipper believes requiring masks for students and staff will go a long way toward fixing the quarantine issue at its core.
“When it’s a revolving door of students in and out, positive, quarantined, not positive, it is very hard to move the education forward for the children of Brevard,” she said.
Brevard County Schools recently added a new testing site at its Health Department office in Viera.
The site opens on Wednesday, and quarantined, asymptomatic students can be tested five days after their last day of exposure.
If that test is negative and they’re still asymptomatic, they will be allowed to return to school.