Written and compiled by Tammy Jaycox Kaplan, admin for Pinellas Parents Advocating for Improvements
A copy of this letter to Dr. Fauci, CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Tampa Bay Times, and the Network for Public Education
Dear Dr. Fauci,
First of all, I want to thank you for your service to our country for decades and for trying to steer the public in the right direction.
As you have seen, Florida schools are in an impossible situation with the delta variant. Our neighboring county, Hillsborough finally put a mask mandate into effect after more than 10,000 students were quarantined in the first week, but it is only for 30 days.
I do not understand how our governor can ignore expert advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC on mask guidance and give into ignorance. But now, parents are in a battle with our school board and we are losing. Out of 7 members, only 3 (Caprice Edmond, Laura Hine, and Nicole Carr) are advocating for masks. After weeks of emails and petitions, an emergency workshop was called; but, without the votes and support from our superintendent, Dr. Grego, nothing has changed.
Thousands of parents are emailing, calling and signing petitions. Some parents email daily…but our efforts to have a safe school environment are ignored.
I am the administrator of Pinellas Parents Advocating for School Improvements, a little advocacy group that keeps parents informed on district and state issues and also helps any parent or student in need at no cost…it is all volunteer to help students get the supports they need. I am working with Healthy St Pete, Pinellas Parents for Healthy Schools, and Pinellas Safe School Return to help coordinate parent effort to get a mask mandate in effect. As you know, when a person who is positive for covid is near a masked person who is negative….the negative person is still at a moderately high risk of exposure (unless they have an n95 mask….which doesn’t happen in schools). But many parents feel that masks don’t work or are harmful. The amount of misinformation out there is utterly astounding.
Just today I received an email from a parent at my child’s elementary school that wearing masks causes children to intake too much carbon dioxide…it’s just like the fallacies about vaccines where people don’t understand the science or believe facts; and, they have reached conclusions that are truly harmful for communities. I know they feel they are protecting their children and feel children have a low risk, but that means they are gambling with spread and people’s lives. I have tried using actual covid-19 stories, as multiple studies in psychology have shown that narratives tend to reach people who are the opposite side of an issue better than facts. I’ve discussed with people about how teachers in our district who have died, and how many children have health issues as well as their families…like those fighting cancer. I myself am immune compromised and have been told to just stay home if I’m so concerned. Well, we kept our kids online all of last year until everyone in the family who was old enough could be vaccinated (my two oldest daughters also have immune issues). But what happened to the America that cares about their neighbors? It is gone.
My aunt, who is a retired physician’s assistant wrote about how parents had their kids lined up when the polio vaccine was available because they all knew friends who had died, were disabled or in an iron lung. Too many parents can’t seem to see an actual physical threat, as many are asymptomatic…they fail to understand how they can easily spread this to someone who may have a severe reaction…or worse.
In talking to members of our school board, I know that multiple members feel covid-19 is just like the flu. I cannot understand this, as I don’t recall a time when influenza wiped out so many people except for the Spanish Flu, which is hauntingly similar in how waves come and go as people get complacent…but I feel you would understand that better than me.
I’m just a mom of three who wants schools to be safe. Parental Rights…as is the issue in Florida, should not allow you to endanger your child or any other children when it is known that masking is a useful strategy. Do you have any thoughts on what we can do?
Could you please write a letter to our school board and superintendent? Maybe it takes an expert to get through to them. I don’t know what else to do when my district is knowingly putting our community in harm’s way.
If you have any guidance or even if you’re able to call in prior to the next school board meeting on August 24th at 10:00 AM…please do so. I don’t know how that would work, but we need all the help we can get.
Thank you for listening and again, thank you for all your work for this country.
These are the email addresses and contact info for our school board and superintendent here in Pinellas County, Florida:
Eileen Long: Longe@pcsb.org
Laura Hine: Hinel@pcsb.org
Caprice Edmond: Edmondc@pcsb.org
Bill Dudley: Dudleywi@pcsb.org
Carol Cook: Cookc@pcsb.org
Nicole Carr: Carrni@pcsb.org
Lisa Cane: Canel@pcsb.org
Michael Grego: Gregom@pcsb.org, Superintendent, Pinellas County Schools (727) 588-6000
Thank you!! If you wish to reach me, my cell is 727 515-0229.
Sincerely, Tammy Kaplan
Pinellas Parents Advocating for School Improvements
Jennifer Wittstruck Griffith
Pinellas Parents Advocating for School Improvements moderator PCS Parent, Volunteer and Public School Advocate Laura McCrary Co-founder of United for Florida Children, Opt Out Pinellas, and Pinellas County School Forum
Pinellas Safe School Return
Co-Founder Pinellas Parents for Healthy Schools
LWVSPA, Education Committee Co-chair, Parent, public school advocate
Press Release attached… https://cdn.fbsbx.com/v/t59.2708-21/239657160_3025784130992297_7339052987968472019_n.pdf/Pinellas-Parents-Demand-Masks-in-Schools.pdf?_nc_cat=104&ccb=1-5&_nc_sid=0cab14&_nc_ohc=VXbN5mH-gcEAX8et6VN&_nc_ht=cdn.fbsbx.com&oh=2b37e6cc55177961dcdc83d142db1b15&oe=6123D7CB&dl=1&fbclid=IwAR0N7lWp-QwcmKQSlyI5bHneAVS5Kx21FeDO-BlXLt5GyVSkcPb3ClIX87Qcdn.fbsbx.comcdn.fbsbx.com