Hundreds of physicians sign petition for mask mandate in Lee County schools

Reporter: Breana Ross Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Dr. Parisima Taeb. Credit: WINK News.

Doctors are signing a petition for a universal mask mandate in Lee County schools. They’re also calling for better contact tracing. The doctor who organized the petition is also a concerned parent of the school district.

A petition spearheaded by Dr. Parisima Taeb has more than 250 doctor signatures Tuesday calling for masks as a necessary safety measure at all schools in The School District of Lee County.

“We, the physicians of Southwest Florida, are urging you to reconsider your position regarding mandating masks for our school district,” as written in the the first paragraph of the petition. “We are also asking for accurate and timely notification protocols for those who have been exposed to COVID-19 positive individuals in our schools. We need to show that we prioritize health, safety, and in-person learning and that we follow the recommendations of medical and public health experts.”

This is personal for Taeb, since her daughter goes to school in Lee County. Taeb has made calls no parent wants to make, calls to her daughter’s school and The School District of Lee County, letting them know her daughter tested positive for COVID-19.

Taeb says she did not expect the response she received.

“To my surprise, nobody from the school or Lee County school district notified any of the parents about this exposure,” Taeb said. “Also, there were a couple of other classmates in her classroom, who were also tested positive, and they were never notified as well.”

That made Taeb angry as a mom and as a doctor, who specializes in internal medicine.

“Other kids in the classroom, they’re not mandated to wear masks at the desks, are very close to each other,” Taeb said.

Taeb told us kids without masks and slow contact tracing are two recipes for disaster. That’s why she started the petition to urge Lee County School Board to mandate masks and improve contact tracing.

“Our hospitals are getting overwhelmed,” Taeb said. “I mean, this is a cry out from all of us from the community. We are trying to beg the school board to help us.”

We spoke directly to District spokesperson Rob Spicker about masks in schools and the petition being signed by doctors.

“At the moment, the mask policy that we have complies with the parents bill of rights, complies with the governors executive order and complies with the rule from the department of health,” Spicker said.

The petition serves as a sign-on letter for physicians only. Taeb is expected to stop gathering signatures on the petition 5 p.m. Tuesday. The petition and letter to the school board is expected to be sent Wednesday.

Taeb says she fears the worst if the policy does not change fast, so she and other doctors will keep pushing.

“I’m just scared that a child is going to die,” Taeb said. “And that’s going to be, it’s going to be too late by then.”

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