Mom starts petition for voluntary masks at Charlotte County schools

Published: May 24, 2021 5:27 PM EDT
Updated: May 25, 2021 11:06 AM EDT

A Southwest Florida community is launching a campaign to unmask children in the classroom. A mom who will be new to the school system in Charlotte County is already making her voice heard about policies in schools.

Melissa Sullivan is moving her family from New England to Rotonda West in Charlotte County.

“We couldn’t go about our normal lives in Connecticut,” Sullivan said. “The restrictions are so fierce.”

Sullivan plans to enroll her son at Lemon Bay High School for the 2021-22 school year. Her only complaint: Students are still masked up at Charlotte County Public Schools.

Florida’s education commissioner says superintendents should make masks optional next school year.

“I think that it should be a choice,” Sullivan said. “Whoever’s in that school building that wants to wear a mask should be able to.”

Sullivan created an online petition urging Charlotte County Public Schools to make mask usage voluntary. More than 500 parents signed their names in support.

“There’s not been a decision, so we’re going to keep with the mask policy until then,” said Michael Riley, the school and community liaison for CCPS.

Riley told us the school board plans to discuss the mask policy at its meeting in June.

Board members will take input from parents.

“Board will make a decision and pass that along to the superintendent,” Riley said.

Sullivan plans to present the petition to the school district’s five board members. She hopes the signatures will persuade them.

“I think the right thing to do at this point over a year into this pandemic is to allow people the choice,” Sullivan said.

The CDC says fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks indoors except for in crowded settings.

Mask usage will be voluntary at schools in The School District of Lee County next school year.