SWFL parents differ on mask policies for the coming school year

Reporter: Taylor Wirtz Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Masked students in school. Credit: WINK News

School is less than three weeks away, and with the recent increase in COVID-19 cases, experts recommend your students wear masks in class. But parents differ on whether they want their children masked up or not.

Southwest Florida school districts are saying masks will continue to be optional for all students during the upcoming school year. Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties’ school districts all tell WINK News they stand by the voluntary mask policy.

Charlotte County went on to say that it will always be in compliance with the rules and laws coming down from Tallahassee, from the Commissioner of Education, the governor or the legislature. Lee County says it encourages families to do what they feel is necessary for their students and Collier County says that while masks are indeed optional, any remaining plans are in the process of being finalized and will be shared closer to the first day of school.

Many parents WINK News spoke to cited low infection rates among children as reason enough to not have their kids wear masks for the upcoming school year. A lot of them are more concerned with their children getting back to a sense of normalcy in their formative years rather than being overly cautious. Some we spoke with said even though they are for wearing masks in schools, they couldn’t imagine having to wear one when they were children.

“It’s complicated because the kids aren’t vaccinated yet, and they can’t be,” said Jessica Taylor. “But I also think kids should just be kids. And I mean, I didn’t have to wear a mask growing up, so… I don’t know. I think kids should just maybe keep their masks on in kindergarten or above, at least, anyways.”

“It is, in my opinion, fine without masks back to school, I think it does more harm for them in a social setting, having to wear a mask and then thinking that’s normal in our world,” said Noah Berkheimer.

Still, a loud majority were firmly for the masks, as they say it’s the only way to feel secure in sending their children back to in person classes. The vehemence of opinions seems to suggest it remains a polarizing issue.

“Certainly, they should wear a mask because we’re in worse shape than we were six months ago,” said one woman who wished to go unnamed. “And what about all the unvaccinated people? Are they considering getting vaccines at this point? I hope so.”

It will be up to parents to decide whether their kids will or will not wear masks to school this year, and the way things are looking, the results will vary significantly, even within the same school district.

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