Medical professionals at governor’s roundtable don’t promote masking students

No matter where you go, you’re usually asked or required to wear a mask. That’s no different in school. But some medical professionals say it’s time to unmask our kids, and Gov. Ron DeSantis is all for it.

But this goes against what the CDC is urging all of us to do to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

A mother told us, if schools don’t require masks, she’d likely homeschool her three boys. Some medical professionals disagree with that kind of reasoning.

Clarivel Venecia in LaBelle has three boys on her hands, one still on her hip, and the older two are in school.

“It’s hard. It’s hard with kids right now,” Venecia said. “It’s hard to keep them six feet apart from their friends and have that mask on all day in school. My little one is always pulling it down.”

Despite how hard it is, no masks, no social distancing sounds a lot harder to Venecia. She feels it’s still unsafe to throw them to the wayside.

“If they keep enforcing the mask and keep enforcing the six feet apart and the washing hands and the social distancing, I will keep my kids in school,” Venecia said. “But the second that is gone, I will pull them out.”

At Gov. DeSantis’ round table discussion Thursday, four medical professionals said masks aren’t doing kids any good.

“Do you agree there’s no need for them to be wearing face masks?” DeSantis asked.

“Children should not wear face masks. No,” said Martin Kulldorff, a biostatistician and professor of medicine at Harvard. “They don’t need it for their own protection, and they don’t need it for protecting other people either.”

This is the opposite of what the CDC recommends; that children 2 years of age and older should wear masks to prevent spread of COVID-19.

The governor argues in-person learning is the priority, and the professionals argue social distancing and masking in schools are not.

“Even letting them in there, to force them to wear masks and distance socially, all of that to me is in direct violation of our social contract,” said Sunetra Gupta, a professor of theoretical epidemiology at Oxford Martin School.

The medical professionals at the roundtable discussion also said masking children was psychologically damaging. The governor acknowledged the professionals who sat with him have often “gone against the grain.”

For now, students in Florida will continue to mask up.

“All I want is my kids to be safe,” Venecia said.

Reporter:Anika Henanger
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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