Collier County parents oppose masks in schools at school district

Reporter: Gina Tomlinson Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
People rally outside the Collier County Public Schools building to protest mask in school ahead of a Collier County School Board meeting Tuesday, March, 9, 2021.

A group of parents showed up to the Collier County Public School Board meeting Tuesday hoping to let board members know they want masks to be made optional at school during the pandemic. People opposed to masks in schools also rallied outside the school district.

But nothing is changing anytime soon. The school district says masks are still a critical safety measure for preventing the spread of the coronavirus. They credit face coverings for helping schools stay open.

Regardless, parents who spoke at the board meeting want to see a change.

“It’s wrong,” parent Tanya Demelo said. “It’s child abuse to put masks on our children every single day and send them to school.”

Parents such as Laura Garulay say their kids are fighting a different battle.

”They are children,” Garulay said. “They are not meant to be wearing masks eight hours a day.”

Mom Ryan Sugg is more afraid of the long-term effects on children, including her 7-year-old daughter Emma.

“She already has reactive airway disorder and allergies,” Sugg explained. “She goes through about three masks a day, and there’s food in it. It’s dirty.”

The argument stirred emotions in front of the school board during the meeting.

One public commenter ripped off her mask and told other parents too, as well, forcing the meeting into recess.

After the public comment portion of the meeting, a doctor from the NCH COVID-19 unit spoke about health findings and school policies, but no official actions on the mandate were taken.

“We are not giving up because these are our children,” Garulay said. “These are our future, and we’re not going to step down. We deserve a choice.”

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