Collier County parents to push for stricter COVID-19 protocols

On Monday, The School District of Lee County announced it would be mandating masks across the district without an opt-out option. Now, parents in Collier County are wondering, some even hoping, if based on the district’s COVID-19 dashboard figures the same will happen there.

Every number on the dashboard represents someone who has contracted coronavirus. For exmaple, there are 56 cases at Oakridge Middle School and 40 cases at Palmetto Ridge High School.

Two moms of children in Collier County Public Schools believe the district should revisit its stance on mask mandates. They say, if you participate in public education you should participate in public health.

Ashleigh Marlin is one of those parents. “I think it’s a public health issue,” Marlin said. Because of this, she’s decide to keep her daughter out of CCPS for this year.

Meanwhile Christine Fuller has decided to send her child back to class. “Every day is just kind of like a wing and a prayer, so to speak,” said Fuller.

Together, the moms started a petition earlier this month. They’ve already collected more than 700 signatures. The petition demands that Collier County schools require masks.

You can read the full letter to the school board below:

“As concerned parents, teachers, and community members in Southwest Florida, we are demanding that the Lee and Collier County School Boards require that face masks be worn inside Lee and Collier County Schools in accordance with CDC’s COVID-19 guidelines, federal disability laws, and the Florida Constitution. It is their duty to provide a safe and effective learning environment for ALL of the children in Lee and Collier counties.  By not requiring masks for all students, teachers, and administrators, school districts are not protecting the most vulnerable students with disabilities and other complex medical needs, which violates the ADA, IDEA, and Section 504. This opens the school district up to significant legal liability. On Friday, August 6, fifteen students and their parents sued in federal court for these exact reasons. Moreover, Article IX, Sec. 1(a) of the Florida Constitution requires that schools are safe. Without masks, our schools are not safe. Again, this exposes the school board to liability. As taxpayers, we do not want our precious public dollars wasted on litigation that could easily be avoided. We hope that Lee and Collier County Schools can avoid lawsuits, especially ones like the one the law firm in St. Petersburg will be filing.”

They believe the district is failing to protect its most vulnerable by not requiring masks. “Why are we infringing on the rights of those that are immunocompromised not just students, but staff as well?” Fuller said.

I really expected, I hoped that ccps would have done something sooner, an emergency meeting,” said Marlin.

While LCSD put their mask mandate in place this week, CCPS, for now, has no plans to do that. A spokesperson for the district said, in part, “For more than a year, we have engaged in community conversations regarding the use of masks, health precautions, and parental choice. Since the commencement of school we continue to carefully monitor case spread and adjust operational procedures accordingly.”

The next Collier County Public School Board meeting will be held on September 8.

You can read the full response to WINK News’ inquiry about masks from Collier County Public Schools below:

“The use of masks by District staff and students is highly recommended and the wearing of masks remains optional.  For more than a year, we have engaged in community conversations regarding the use of masks, health precautions, and parental choice.  In consultation with Department of Health-Collier and our local medical professionals, since the commencement of school we continue to carefully monitor case spread and adjust operational procedures accordingly. Because our safety precautions are not static, those precautions have continued to evolve as recently as August 30, 2021.

  For additional health information for the 2021-2022 school year, please visit www.collierschools.com/health. CCPS will update this webpage with information and resources to help keep our CCPS Family healthy.  In addition, we created the following page to address some frequently asked questions: https://www.collierschools.com/Page/16551.”

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