32963 Homepage

Want to purchase reprints of your favorite 32963 or photos?

Copies of Vero Beach 32963 can be obtained at the following locations:


Our office HQ: (located at 4855 North A1A)
1. Corey's Pharmacy
2. 7-Eleven

(South A1A)
3. Major Real Estate Offices


1. Vero Beach Book

2. Classic Car Wash
3. Divine Animal
4. Sunshine Furniture

5. Many Medical

Incoming School Board members support mandatory mask rules

STORY BY GEORGE ANDREASSI (Week of November 19, 2020)

Incoming School Board members Brian Barefoot and Peggy Jones said they support mandatory facemask rules, a dramatic change from the optional facemask policy championed by their outgoing counterparts.

COVID-19 cases have spiked in Indian River County public schools since Nov. 3, particularly at Vero Beach High School, where 16 students and five staff members tested positive in the past three weeks.

The recent outbreak of COVID-19 at the high school resulted in 147 students being directed to quarantine between Nov. 3 and Nov. 16. Five staff members also tested positive for the virus and one additional teacher was directed to quarantine.

These numbers are far below the threshold the School District has set for closing Vero Beach High.

But Barefoot and Jones, who were set to be sworn into office at Tuesday’s School Board meeting, have questioned the wisdom of any retreat from the mandatory facemask policy while the COVID-19 pandemic is still spreading.

“I think facemasks should be mandatory,” Barefoot said. “I think the majority of people are pro-mask. I think that’s the wise and smart thing to do, even though I don’t want to have to wear one either.”

A COVID-19 outbreak that closes a school could make some teachers unwilling to return to class, Barefoot said.

“If you don’t care about yourself being protected from others, you should care about others being protected from you – particularly with so many kids and adults too being asymptomatic,” Barefoot said. “Nobody wants to wear a mask. I don’t. But I think under the circumstances, it’s the responsible thing to do.”

Jones said she too supports the mandatory mask policy “because it’s right for our students and teachers. The CDC recommends it.

“The School Board is in charge of making sure the kids are safe,” Jones said. “When you’re wearing a mask, you’re showing kindness to others because you don’t want to spread anything you may not know if you have or not.”

Barefoot, a retired college president and business titan, is replacing Tiffany Justice, a parent who decided not to seek a second four-year term representing District 5, which includes most of the barrier island.

Jones, a retired school principal and administrator, ousted board Chairwoman Laura Zorc, a parent and business executive, in the Aug. 18 election to represent District 3.

Justice and Zorc put aside their longstanding political rivalry during the Oct. 15 School Board meeting to call for greater parental say over whether children wear facemasks in class, helping move the board in the direction of phasing out mandatory masks.

Despite that, Barefoot and Jones both declined to critique the performance of their predecessors, or the board that served together since three new members were elected in 2018.

“I’d rather look to the future,” Barefoot said. “I do think they are to be complimented for hiring Dr. (David) Moore. I sat through those interviews, at least with the finalists. In my opinion they hired the right person. I think, given time, he’s going to do a superb job.”

Barefoot endorsed Moore’s emphasis on improving academic performance across the district, while Jones echoed Moore’s priority on recruiting and retaining talented teachers.

Barefoot and Jones both said Moore has done a good job communicating with the public as schools reopened amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.