Seven sets of parents with students at Episcopal School of Jacksonville have filed a lawsuit over the school’s mask requirement. These parents do not address the benefits of mask-wearing for other children and parents. With masks, fewer children will be exposed to Covid-19, or have instruction disrupted.
In its August 6th update of its Covid-19 procedures the school states,
In order to dramatically reduce the need for any of the required quarantines that can take such a mental, emotional, and academic toll on our children, and do all that we can to ensure the health of our Episcopal families, we have made the decision to extend certain summer protocols for thirty days from the opening of school next week:
– Masks will be required for everyone age three and above in our community when in classrooms or smaller indoor settings.
– The one exception to this requirement is that a parent of a fully vaccinated student, according to CDC guidelines, may request that their child not wear a mask. To do so, parents must contact [the school nurse] to opt their son or daughter out of wearing a mask.
The school issued this statement to local news organizations seeking comment on the lawsuit:
Episcopal School of Jacksonville considers protecting the health and safety of our students as its highest priority. Episcopal also believes that having children in school is essential to their learning and growth. Our protocols stem from these two guiding principles.
Working closely with our COVID-19 medical advisory team and following guidance from national health organizations’ best practices to 1) ensure children’s health during the pandemic and 2) limit quarantines, Episcopal conveyed to its parent body on August 6 the decision to require masks for all students and teachers for a temporary 30-day period beginning with the opening of school.
Our guidelines provided an opt-out of mask-wearing for students and employees who are vaccinated. Parents and employees who make the choice to opt out were given instructions on how to proceed (see esj.org/covid)
As an independent, faith-based school, Episcopal is not subject to the Governor’s Executive Order 21-175 or the Florida Department of Health’s emergency rules for public schools.
Episcopal will continue to closely monitor local health conditions and will modify protocols as the situation in our community warrants.
The parents suing the school say in their suit:
The Update requires only unvaccinated students to wear facial masks when in classrooms and indoor settings on Episcopal’s campuses.
The Update does not contain any exemptions for unvaccinated children in situations where: (1) the child is simply too young to obtain the vaccine in accordance with current federal guidelines, i.e., children aged 3 through 11; (2) the child has not obtained a vaccine because the parent, in the exercise of his or her fundamental right to parent his or her child, has determined not to vaccinate the child for medical and/or healthcare-related reasons; or (3) the child has tested positive for COVID-19 and the parent, in the exercise of his or her fundamental right to parent his or her child, has determined not to vaccinate the child for at least ninety (90) days because it would be medically inadvisable to do so.