HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A small group of parents came to protest outside of the Hillsborough County School District building over the mandatory mask mandate on Friday.
Bridget Staszak says she doesn’t believe her child should be forced to wear a mask.
“We are damaging them psychologically, physically with these masks,” said Staszak.
The county school board voted earlier in the week to require students and staff to wear face coverings inside unless they can provide a doctor’s note proving they have a medical exemption.
Kimberly Hall says she refuses to put her child in a Hillsborough County Public School but also claims she can’t find a doctor to provide a medical exemption.
“We’ve been calling doctors for two days. We can’t find doctors that are willing to put their license on the line or to even pop up in the system that they’re giving out so many medical mask exemptions and they are scared that a red flag will pop up and they will be investigated,” said Hall.
As of Friday, more than 13,000 students and staff in Hillsborough County were on quarantine after exposure to someone with the virus.
Some of the people under quarantine are student-athletes and it’s having an impact on the sports schedule.
On Friday, Plant High School was scheduled to play a football game against Chamberlain High School, but so many players from Chamberlain are in quarantine they had to change the game. Instead, Plant will play Tampa Bay Tech for their Friday night game.
Tampa Bay Tech had been scheduled to play Manatee High School, but Manatee could not make the game because of a school bus driver shortage and they didn’t have transportation.
Earlier in the week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis blasted the Hillsborough County School board for voting to require masks.
DeSantis was under the impression the vote also included students competing in athletics.
“I just saw, that they are forcing the athletes to wear masks during competition, not based on any science. That is totally, totally overboard,” said DeSantis.
Hillsborough County School District spokesperson Erin Maloney says no athlete will be required to wear a mask while they compete.
“We want to make sure that anyone indoors except for an athlete who is actively participating is wearing a face covering,” said Maloney.
Coaches, spectators, and athletes not competing will have to wear face coverings if they are indoors.
Maloney says the district is trying to make the school athletic year as normal as possible.
“We know how important it is to have students playing sports. It helps some with their social skills, it keeps them mentally healthy, so we really have to keep them on the field playing,” said Maloney.