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Teacher calls for testing, vaccine mandates as Duval County Public Schools sees record cases of COVID-19

Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene is placing administrators in classrooms to fill the gap of teachers who are out with COVID.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Staffing schools, even with substitutes, is becoming more of a challenge for Duval County Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene.

Some teachers tell First Coast News they sounded the alarm months ago. 

"We haven't had shortages all of a sudden. We've had shortages since day one," said teacher Chris Guerrieri.

He says Dr. Greene didn't have much of a choice to put administrators in classrooms to fill the gap of teachers who are out with COVID.  He calls it a temporary fix to a much larger problem.

"When we got the announcement this was going to happen, I sort of felt like it was sprinkles on ice cream," Guerrieri said. "Sure, it's nice but it doesn't really change the flavor of ice cream."

Dr. Greene says there were a record 473 COVID-19 cases reported within the district Monday. 

 "When you have vacancies, added with what we are dealing with COVID-19 with the pandemic, it required us to pull out all stops and put all hands on deck," Dr. Greene explained of her decision.

Guerrieri's solution to reverse those numbers: Mandatory testing and vaccines. He knows it's controversial.

"Not just staff members, for students that the vaccine are eligible for.  Then, it's just not vaccines. It's testing. We have to test. Right now, there is no testing requirement," Guerrieri said.

Dr. Greene's plan to use administrators as substitutes is expected to last until early February as the district looks to fill more than a thousand vacancies.

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