Nassau Co. parent and teacher talk about back-to-school safety

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Without a mask warrant, teacher Melissa Carr and parent Rebecca McKinney are hoping everyone will know when to stay home if they feel sick.

NASSAU COUNTY, Fla .– This is the last Friday before kids return to school in Nassau County. It’s safe to say that we were all hoping at that point that COVID-19 would be a thing of the past.

This is not the case, and schools will have safety protocols in place that you should be aware of.

Some requirements that were in place last year are gone. In Nassau County schools, masks are encouraged and not mandatory. Schools will also come out an hour earlier Wednesday for cleanup, and layoffs will be staggered to help with social distancing.

The worry of some is how the actions of others might impact the health of their families.

“I have two children,” said Rebecca McKinney. “My son Matthew is going to be at Fernandina Beach Middle School in first grade this year… I’m sorry. I’m sorry! Fernandina Beach High School! It’s hard for me to understand that my baby is in high school.

Her daughter is in 5th grade. McKinney is like so many parents getting ready for another school year.

“Except this year, we kind of know where we’re headed,” McKinney said. “Last year was a little scary. The kids were a little worried with this whole mask thing… but this year you know you went to orientation… it’s not that scary.

In one of the schools, teacher Melissa Carr shows First Coast News her class. The plexiglass is gone, but she says it looks suspiciously like last year.

“We’re all worried,” Carr admitted. “We have lost a lot of teachers because of their worry about getting back to a safe environment. It’s sad.”

They both agree that it is the individual responsibility to protect others and that worries them.

“We don’t know if a family had it. If they don’t report it themselves, ”Carr said. “If they don’t report it themselves, we have no way of knowing, so our kids come in and they could unknowingly get infected and pass it on to someone else.

“It would be a concern,” McKinney agreed. “Just the carelessness of the people.”

Carr is the union vice president of the Nassau County Teachers Association. She says one thing she’s fighting for is bringing back the COVID salary for teachers, so if they get sick they can get paid time off. She says the district hasn’t brought this back this year.


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