Require Masks in Pinellas County Schools
Require Masks in Pinellas County Schools
Dear PCS Superintendent Grego and School Board Members:
Based on the high rates of community transmission and the current guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control, we call on Superintendent Grego and the Pinellas County School Board to immediately institute the following:
- 30-day universal mask mandate - All students, teachers, staff, and visitors on school grounds and in busses (even if vaccinated for COVID-19)
- Opt-out Option - Students can opt-out of mask requirement with parent/guardian permission (at 2,000 signatures we are changing this opt-out option to be "opt-out only with a doctors note". Covid-19 is spreading far too rapidly in our PCS system with mass absences of teachers, students and bus drivers).
- Reassess monthly – Pinellas community positivity rate of less than 5% and Code Green status for Pinellas County EMS (Emergency Medical Services), then waive mask mandate
(If you’d like to take additional action - Email Pinellas County Schools Superintendent and Pinellas County School Board - firstname.lastname@example.org; Hinel@pcsb.org; Canel@pcsb.org; Longe@pcsb.org; Cookc@pcsb.org; Dudleywi@pcsb.org; Edmondc@pcsb.org; CarrN@pcsb.org; email@example.com)
COVID-19 cases are on the rise in what the head of the CDC has called a "pandemic of the unvaccinated,” and our local hospitals are seeing the highest number of admitted COVID-19 patients to date, most of them unvaccinated.
With no vaccine currently available for our younger children and the continued spread of the highly transmissible delta variant, the risk to our children is now higher than it was last fall. The Delta variant is spreading 50% faster than Alpha, which was 50% more contagious than the original strain of SARS-CoV-2Source: https://www.yalemedicine.org/news/5-things-to-know-delta-variant-covid
Additionally, we are learning that while most children recover from COVID- 19 infections just fine, there is a growing body of research that points to long-haul COVID-19 symptoms in children who had mild cases initially. Evidence from the first study of “long Covid” in children suggests that more than half of children between the ages of 6 and 16 who contract the virus have at least one symptom lasting more than four months, with 43 percent impaired by these symptoms during daily activities. Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7927578/
Both the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend masks be worn indoors for those 2 years and older.
The CDC updated their guidance on July 27, 2021 and now recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/index.html
As of July 19, 2021, in updated guidance for the 2021-2022 school year, the AAP supports universal masking in schools. "All students older than 2 years and all school staff should wear face masks at school (unless medical or developmental conditions prohibit use)."
The AAP recommends universal masking in school at this time for the following reasons:
• a significant portion of the student population is not eligible for vaccination protection of unvaccinated students from COVID-19 and to reduce transmission
• lack of a system to monitor vaccine status among students, teachers and staff
• potential difficulty in monitoring or enforcing mask policies for those who are not vaccinated; in the absence of schools being able to conduct this monitoring, universal masking is the best and most effective strategy to create consistent messages, expectations, enforcement, and compliance without the added burden of needing to monitor vaccination status
• possibility of low vaccination uptake within the surrounding school community
• continued concerns for variants that are more easily spread among children, adolescents, and adults
You have worked hard to keep our children safe to date. Masks were effective last year. We urge you to re-evaluate your plans for the upcoming school year in light of recent change in current guidance and local data.
Thank you all for your leadership.
Parents, family and neighbors of PCS students