In Florida, a state which has seen alarming growth in COVID-19 cases, many are wrestling with the dilemma of reopening schools. I am urging the adoption of a face mask policy in Clay County schools for staff and students whenever social distancing is not possible. I understand that this policy will have vocal opponents however, we must give great weight to that which is safest for our schools. This policy should have common sense exceptions for some diverse learners and staff. I am asking all stakeholders to read over the guidance from the CDC and AAP so that it may inform your decisions regarding best practices that help protect our students and staff. While the CDC recommends that schools "space seating/desks at least 6 feet apart when feasible." The American Academy of Pediatrics states, "In many school settings, 6 feet between students is not feasible without limiting the number of students. Evidence suggests that spacing as close as three feet may approach the benefits of six feet of space, particularly if students are wearing face coverings and are asymptomatic."
I hope you will follow the science and recommendations of the experts to mitigate the many risks of reopening schools in the midst of this pandemic. Because mitigate, not eliminate is all that we can do. As the AAP explains in their recent statement, "policy makers should acknowledge that COVID-19 policies are intended to mitigate, not eliminate, risk. No single action or set of actions will completely eliminate the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission, but implementation of several coordinated interventions can greatly reduce that risk."
By passing this policy, you are helping to keep our schools open by reducing the risk for our students and staff.