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P.K. Yonge parents mobilize in support of a mask mandate in the school

Published: Aug. 16, 2021 at 6:28 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Because P.K. Yonge is a department of the College of Education at UF, it has to follow the rules put in place by university officials. Right now, masks are not required at UF, so staff at P.K. Yonge have to mirror their policy.

As the car line grew this morning on SW 6th Street, a group of parents took to the street with signs, masks and a strong message.

P.K. Yonge parent Kristen Grace wants to reinforce the message to kids that masking helps.

“We just really wanted to send a positive message to the kids as they come into school that masking is the right thing to do. We’re all in this together, we need to keep each other safe, and we support them.”

This call for a mask mandate comes as the Alachua County School Board fights against the state to implement a mandate.

RELATED STORY: ACPS reenacting strict visitor policy for schools

But because P.K. Yonge is governed by UF and not the district, those students are not included in the superintendent’s fight.

Parent Mark Hostetler is most concerned for the students who do not qualify for a vaccine.

“We’re concerned about this variant, especially when there’s a large portion at P.K. Yonge that are unvaccinated because they’re under 12.”

Alachua County Public School’s officials say there have been 59 COVID-19 cases among students over the past two weeks, putting 535 students in quarantine.

The Florida Department of Education is threatening to withhold funding from districts not complying with the Governor’s executive order.

That means Alachua County would lose funding equal to the salaries of the superintendents and school board members.

In a letter to the state— the U.S. Department of Education says if the governor moves forward with this, they will use american rescue plan dollars to ensure these educators are paid.

The Governor’s office responded to that letter, saying they are surprised the White House would rather spend money on the salaries of superintendents and elected politicians than on Florida’s students, which is what the Governor says the funds should be used for.

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