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Collier County Public Schools pushes start date to Aug 31

Collier County Public School Board voted unanimously to push the start date for the upcoming 2020-21 school year to Aug. 31 during its meeting Tuesday.

During the public comment period of the board meeting, many parents expressed concerns for the start of the school year. At the forefront was a concern for the student requirement to wear masks.

Parents are worried for their children’s mental and physical health

“Having my little child trying to keep a mask on all day wouldn’t happen,” mother Jana Greer said during public comment.

Greer has six children.

“To then say those who want to go to school here garb up in all day, I don’t think it’s realistic,” Greer said.

And many other parents are in the same boat.

“My 7-year-old Sammy has issues with speech and has issues with attention and needs structure,” Jennifer Mitchell said during public comment.

Mitchell is a mother of two and says it’s hard to homeschool and run her business.

“I felt like a terrible parent,” Mitchell said. “I want a nice schedule, but it’s impossible with two professions. We all broke down on a regular basis.”

Mitchell’s 7-year-old daughter even spoke to the board.

“Masks are really hot and uncomfortable,” Sam Mitchell said during public comment.

And that’s why parents want other options.

“We want the Collier County School Board to provide a mask-optional education for the schools,” Terry Casterson said during public comment.

“Re-wearing your cloth masks you are all wearing today is kind of like re-wearing your underwear multiple times a week,” Casterson said. “It’s not safe. It’s not healthy.”

Although many parents were worried about the mask health risks, Dr. Rebekah Bernard, the president of the Collier County Medical Society said there is no need to worry.

“We want to clarify concerns of mask use,” Bernard said during public comment. “The use of masks do not cause low oxygen levels or have a build-up of carbon dioxide.”

Teachers are set to begin the school year Aug. 17.

The school district added more days back onto the school calendar to accommodate the need for more time.

The school board plans to continue to revisit safety measures related to preventing spread of the coronavirus at its next meeting.

Reporter:Taylor Smith
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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