Pasco County Schools plans to require all students, staff and visitors to wear face masks or face coverings while on school campuses or at other district properties beginning this fall, according to a district news release.
Superintendent Kurt Browning placed the topic on the school board’s agenda for discussion at its July 21 virtual telephonic meeting, after The Laker/Lutz News went to press.
Browning intends to bring an emergency rule to the board on July 28 to formalize the mandate, the release says.
“Every decision is being made with input from parents, teachers, staff, the school board and health professionals,” Browning said, in the release. “This is an essential component in our strategy to create a safe and healthy environment for our students and staff.”
The proposed rule describes what qualifies as a mask or face covering and under what circumstances the mask can be removed. It also describes how the school district will make accommodations for students or staff members who have a medical condition that would prevent them from wearing a mask or face covering.
The district also noted that “the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) recommend that everyone wear a face covering to help prevent community spread of COVID-19.
“Face coverings have also been mandated by Pasco County. Current medical research shows that COVID-19 is most commonly spread through respiratory droplets created when a person talks, sings, raises their voice, shouts, sneezes or coughs, even when a person is asymptomatic. The face covering reduces and/or prevents the number of these droplets from making it into the environment and being inhaled by another person.
“When you wear a face covering, you help protect others around you from COVID-19, and when those around you wear face coverings, they are protecting you and others around them. While social distancing and regular hand-washing are also essential, social distancing is not always possible. In those situations, face covering provides additional protection.”
If the emergency rule is adopted, the district will join a growing list of government jurisdictions and private businesses now requiring masks.
The mask issue, however, continues to be a flashpoint of controversy during this global pandemic.
Proponents of masks point to medical experts and scientists, and say wearing masks can save lives. Opponents are skeptical about the effectiveness of masks and say such mandates are an infringement on personal freedoms.
Published July 22, 2020