NAPLES, FLA — Masks may be optional in Collier County Public Schools, but discussion about it was mandatory for the community Tuesday night.
Parents in the area are split.
"If you tell me it's not important for her to be masked in school, then I believe you, but I believe at the core of who you are [you know] it's important," said one woman.
And even students weighed in on the discussion.
"We don't want these masks so maybe you can help us," said a young girl.
The discussion ended in clapping, interruption, and a warning from a board member
"Many of the same people have asked us that their kids don't get bullied if they're at school without a mask. So how can you be here and then act like a bully to somebody sitting at the dais just speaking, using their time?" said board member Stephanie Lucarelli.
In end, the board says it's sticking to its current decision, for now
"I think we made the right decision on masks," said a board member
"I believe that masks are an effective layer of protection in keeping our children healthy, but mandating masks is not how I want to proceed," said Lucarelli.
The superintendent, Dr. Kamela Patton, says the district feels comfortable with keeping masks optional because schools have other protections in place like hand sanitizer and social distancing.
"We're going to heavily monitor as we did last year where we may need to change if anything because our mantra last year is the same as this year, it's not to open schools but to stay open," said Patton.
Patton adds that as they continue to monitor the situation they may also bring in health officials to give updates at future board meetings.