PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla (WFLA) — Parents and health leaders in Pinellas County are calling on school officials to enforce stronger COVID-19 safety protocols, including a mask mandate.
“As we sit by and argue about face masks and vaccinations the SARS COVID-2 virus is capitalizing on our response, allowing the Delta variant to emerge, and now the equation has changed,” Dr. Mona Mangat said.
Mangat is part of a coalition of parents and health leaders who held a press conference Monday demanding that the Pinellas County School Board implement masks for all school staff and students for 60 days to stop the spread of this virus.
“As a physician on the front lines of this pandemic, it’s exhausting to see the course is pandemic has taken and how our collective response has been inadequate to keep our community safe,” she said.
“We need to use common sense. We need to protect our babies and protect ourselves,” said Dr. LaDonna Butler, a licensed mental health counselor and parent.
The group is also calling for timely notifications about positive cases in classrooms to be shared with families.
“We need real-time information when there’s a positive COVID student in class with our kids,” parent Chrissy Krampert said. “Even a two-day delay is unacceptable. It is absolutely outrageous to me that I would get a note home about lice but not about a Covid positive exposing my daughter in fourth grade.”
A group opposed to any sort of mask mandate stood outside chanting during the press conference.
“When you set the precedent to say that parents to say that parents can’t do what they want with their kids that means that there’s a window, an opportunity for somebody to come in and say well I know what’s best,” said Sweet Gonzalez, a parent who is opposed to a mask mandate. “I’m not opposed to masks. I’m opposed to somebody saying what a parent can and can’t do with their kids in order to send them to public school that’s funded by their tax dollars.”
The school board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday morning. School officials said there are not any agenda items scheduled regarding a mask mandate, but expect the issue to come up during public comment.