Special meeting Monday evening on mask policies for Lee County schools

Reporter: Michael Hudak Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Masked Lee County students. Credit: WINK News

Will the Lee County School Board reverse course and mandate all students to wear masks in class? The seven board members meet Monday evening at 5 p.m. and are expected to vote again on the measure.

More and more students and teachers go into COVID-19 quarantine every day, with no end in sight. On Friday, a circuit judge ruled any school board that wants to impose a mask mandate has the legal authority to do so, and Gov. Ron DeSantis can’t stop them.

Judge Cooper said school boards can not only eliminate the parental opt-out, but also demand a doctor’s note from any student claiming a medical exemption. WINK News reached out to all seven board members. Two of them say they absolutely will vote for a mask mandate, while another says she isn’t sure.

“Whatever happens, my vote will definitely be in favor of requiring masks at this time,” said Mary Fischer.

“Maybe this is a way to help us to get together and start putting the fire out,” said Gwyn Gittens. “I can’t stand staunchly on, ‘We must do this,’ if I don’t know all of the information, so honestly I don’t know what I’ll do.”

There are moms and dads similarly split: Some absolutely want every student in every school to wear a mask, while others are strongly opposed to it.

“The school district can have all these flowcharts set, they could have all these meetings, workshops, and they could implement all these other safety measures,” said Dr. Parisima Taeb, internal medicine physician and Lee County parent. “The most important, most preventive safety protocol is to mandate masks, period. If they don’t do that, all the other stuff, the whole system is broken.”

Taeb has a daughter in a Lee County school, and she got well over 200 doctors to sign a petition in favor of the mask mandate. If the board does put a mask mandate in place, it would likely expire when the CDC, the Florida Department of Health or local health leaders announce it’s no longer necessary.

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