September 20, 2021 6:00am

Jacksonville Power Poll shows movers and shakers support school board on mask mandates

September poll sees power elite in Jacksonville overwhelmingly supporting Duval County mask policy

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By Drew Dixon
Jacksonville, FL Correspondent

The Duval County School Board’s decision to implement a mask mandate on school campuses to fight the Coronavirus Delta variant outbreak is getting strong support from Jacksonville’s power elite.

September’s Power Poll shows the power elite in Jacksonville have the backs of school board members as they instituted the mask mandate Sept. 7 in defiance of Gov. Ron DeSantis who threatened state sanctions against school districts that took the measures. The Duval County Public Schools will review the policy in December and make a decision then as to possibly extending the mandate for students, staff and faculty inside buildings.

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The Power Poll showed 88.9% of those taking the survey said they totally support the school board’s decision and they can’t be too safe when it comes to the pandemic. Another 11.1% said they oppose the mask mandate, which is just another example of politicizing the outbreak.

Daniel Scott, founder of Venus Swimwear headquartered in Jacksonville, said the school board was operating right within its wheelhouse.

“At home, you can do what you want. At school, you have to think about people other than yourself. Asking someone to wear a mask is not imposing on anyone's ‘freedom,’” Scott said. “Telling children -- who cannot yet be vaccinated -- to wear a mask is logical and is the least we can do if we want schools to be open.”

When it comes to the timing of the mask mandate in Jacksonville schools, the same overwhelming support is given to the school board with 88.9% saying the school board should have even implemented the mask mandate two weeks earlier when classes started. Meanwhile 11.1% said the school board totally overreacted to alarmists and freedom of choice supersedes the government decisions.

Poll results were slightly more mixed when it comes to opinions on what should happen to the school board in the wake of ignoring the orders from DeSantis. Some 77.8% of respondents said the school board should be given high awards for caring for the health of the students over politics. Another 11.5% said the school board should learn to deal with state government better and 5.6% said they hope DeSantis punishes the school board as far as the law allows. Another 5.6% said they had no opinion or didn’t know.

And finally, respondents were split on what message the entire mask mandate sends after it’s all over as 42.1% said the biggest message is local governments know what’s best for local students while the same percentage said the governor is out of control. Three other responses split with 5.3% of respondents saying local educators think they know what’s best while parents and families should make that decision or the science is inconclusive and the governor is right to remain skeptical and the same percentage said they had no opinion or weren’t sure.

September’s Power Poll took place in email surveys between Sept. 13 and Sept. 16. Some 90 surveys were distributed to Jacksonville’s power players and 19 of those completed responses, which is a 21.1% response rate.

This is Drew Dixon and be on the lookout for October’s Power Poll online next month and thanks for participating and reading.

About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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