Require masks for HCPS staff, create mask cohorts & strongly encourage masks for K-12 kids

Require masks for HCPS staff, create mask cohorts & strongly encourage masks for K-12 kids

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Debra Setzer started this petition to Superintendent HCPS Addison Davis and

Dear HCPS Superintendent Davis and School Board Members:

In light of 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 Davis and the Hillsborough County School Board to institute a mask mandate. 

Our strong preference is to have a full mask mandate for all.  If that course of action is becomes legally impossible with the new Executive Order, we ask you to mandate masks for all teachers, staff and visitors and model mask wearing yourselves as school leaders in all indoor public settings.  We ask that you create mask cohorts to the best of your ability and to greatly limit visitors to reduce the spread of COVID.  We also ask that you do everything in your power to strongly encourage masks for all K-12 students, and have masks readily available to provide masks for all parties for the upcoming school year.

As you are also probably aware, some counties have revised their masking policies. In Florida, Duvall County has issued a similar mandate applying to staff and visitors.  https://www.firstcoastnews.com/article/news/health/coronavirus/duval-schools-teachers-staff-wear-masks-30-days/77-9b6738bd-5402-4a78-accc-e20056d224ec

COVID-19 cases are on the rise 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 approximately twice as transmissible as the original virus.  We must do more to protect our children against a variant that is approximately twice as transmissible as what we faced last year.  

Additionally, we are learning that while most children recover from COVID 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
Source: https://services.aap.org/en/pages/2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-infections/clinical-guidance/covid-19-planning-considerations-return-to-in-person-education-in-schools/

Please note that the original version of this petition had over 3000 signatures.  This is an updated version in light of the Executive Order.  Original petition:  http://chng.it/K2CF5Xjr 

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 current guidance and local data.  Thank you all for your leadership.


Signed,
Parents of HCPS students

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At 1,000 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!