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Parents argue for, against mask mandate in Lee Co. schools

Posted at 12:12 AM, Jul 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-28 00:12:32-04

FORT MYERS, FLA — COVID-19 concerns were top of mind at Tuesday night's Lee County School Board meeting.

First up, was a discussion on masks on campus.

"I'm asking you to mandate masks for the upcoming school year," said a former Southwest Florida teacher.

"You guys don't have the authority to mandate anything. Let's be clear on that one," said a local parent.

It became clear that masks continue to be a divisive issue among parents and community members.

As of now, the school district is keeping them optional on campus, but they are also reviewing district protocols.

"Keep medical procedures away from our schools," said a local mother.

Up next, was a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Lee County Department of Health to help provide COVID-19 testing and vaccinations to students and staff.

"It says testing will only be performed with informed consent of each patient or their parent or their guardian," said a Southwest Florida parent.

There was immediate concern about the language in the MOU, which made it seem like students under 18 would be allowed to get vaccinated or get a COVID-19 test through the district, without their parent's permission.

"There's no way that a child can give consent for medical testing or vaccination. It must be informed consent from the parent," said School Board Attorney, Kathy Dupuy-Bruno, Esq.

The district quickly cleared that issue up, saying the clause is written that way to accommodate adult staff members, and a motion on the issue later passed.

Despite these changes and the promise to look into tightening up their protocols, a longtime county worker said it comes too little to late for many county substitute teachers

"Nobody talks to us, nobody puts us on committees, they don't listen to us. So, I am here to tell you today that I am personally quitting," said Marvin Goetz.

Goetz tells FOX 4 that there are plenty of other substitute teachers in the county who feel the same way.

He says they have concerns about returning to classroom due to COVID-19 and that they also want to be paid more.

Goetz adds that a group of those teachers are planning to meet next Wednesday morning, to make a final decision on their employment with the district.