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Group calls for mandatory masks in Hillsborough County Public Schools

The proposed policy would require masks for all people inside public schools in Hillsborough county as part of the dress code.
Credit: Danielle Nanda
5-year-old Dax Nanda is used to wearing a mask in public indoor spaces.

TAMPA, Fla — A group is proposing that Hillsborough County Public Schools make masks mandatory starting this fall.  

Danielle Nanda, a mom in Tampa, initially proposed masks for Dale Mabry Elementary to be an extension of the school uniform. 

She and her husband, Dr. Paul Nanda, have teamed up with Mary Anderson. Anderson is a University of Tampa professor who serves on the University of Tampa COVID-19 Health Safety Task Force for Re-Opening.

On Monday, they emailed a policy proposal to Hillsborough County Superintendent Addison Davis and all school board members. 

The policy asks that the district make masks required for all people inside public schools in Hillsborough county as part of the dress code.

The Superintendent has said that masks are strongly recommended for students and staff, but will not be mandatory.  He told the school board that they plan to provide each student three masks.

Davis told 10 Tampa Bay last week the policy could change come August, but that will depend on the COVID-19 pandemic in the state. He says, right now, it is a parent’s decision.  

"The Hillsborough County School District sent an informational website to parents and posted the information online. It outlines the reopening models, addresses masks and lets parents know that in the next few days they will receive a 'Declaration of Intent' that they will fill out selecting which school option they prefer for their child," the district wrote in a statement.

But supporters of a mask mandate want to see more done. Their policy proposal calls on “creating a positive culture of mask wearing for all students, staff, and teachers.”

The group put together a list of answers to frequently asked questions including what happens if students forget to bring their masks, how the mandate would apply to students with disabilities, outdoor activities and whether members of band or theater would need to wear them.

They say they based the answers on “recommendations from the medical community, public health officials, and documents from the CDC and American Association of Pediatrics.”

Dear Superintendent Davis and Honorable Members of the Hillsborough County School Board, We are writing today with a policy proposal for the safe reopening of HCPS. We write asparents, educators, and medical experts. We believe the scientific evidence is clear. Masks savelives.

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