Florida’s pediatricians want masks in schools

Masking, testing, distancing, and vaccination recommended.

With a new school year about to begin and multiple variants of COVID-19 surging at once, pediatricians have a prescription for Florida schools: Universal masking.

The Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics issued on Thursday an unambiguous argument for face coverings and distancing.

Primary to the pediatricians’ case is the fact that vaccines aren’t available for many children attending K-12 schools.

“Since children under 12 years of age are still not yet eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and the vaccine will most likely not be available for this age group until winter of 2021, most children are still at risk for Coronavirus infection and transmitting the infection to others,” the group asserted, noting that both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend masking in schools.

“The Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (FCAAP) supports the continued, universal use of masks and physical distancing in schools by all individuals including students, faculty members, and staff through the end of the 2021-2022 school year. Masking should be in addition to the continuation of testing protocols in schools to mitigate the spread of infection. Finally, and most importantly, FCAAP recommends that all vaccine eligible children, faculty, and staff in schools should be vaccinated.”

The plea for mandatory masks comes the same week after DeSantis held a roundtable in which all panelists made the case against masking in schools.

This should absolutely not be proposed,” DeSantis said, noting a Special Session might be necessary to “protect these kids who just want to be able to breathe freely.”

DeSantis discussed the Jacksonville Classical Academy, a charter school he visited which went mask-free last year and “let kids be kids” without too much “extreme social distancing.”

“The results were, I don’t know that they had any more, but they probably had less COVID cases than other schools who did the opposite,” the Governor contended.

Panelists took even a harder line.

“My position is simple. Masking children is child abuse,” asserted Dr. Mark McDonald, a psychiatrist from California.

DeSantis went on to note the “unspeakable burdens” of virus precautions, expressing worry about “long-term implications” for the youngsters.

As DeSantis seeks a normal year for children in schools, the pandemic continues to wreak abnormal havoc. The Florida Department of Health reported 6,999 cases for those 12 and under in the week ending July 22. 7,346 more cases were confirmed for those between 13 and 19.

Tellingly, DeSantis had calls with leadership of the House and Senate Thursday. He has suggested legislative interest in a ban of vaccine and mask mandates in a Special Session, and clearly the lines of communication are open.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • Frankie M.

    July 29, 2021 at 8:00 pm

    Radio silence from alot of local school districts. DCPS is more worried about DuhSantis & potential lawsuits than they are about the kids. Ask Lori Hershey she’ll tell ya. Or ask Lenny if he still has any kids still in public schools #chickenshit

  • Michael Hoffmann

    July 29, 2021 at 9:31 pm

    You’d think that conservatives would want to be conservative, and wear the masks in school, just in case, but Trump has turned their heads with his siren song and big stick.

    I have a grand going into the first grade and one going into the 7th — both in public schools. The 7th grader wore a mask this year and got the shots when they became available. Now, I worry about the little guy.

    • Frankie M.

      July 29, 2021 at 10:41 pm

      I’m convinced there weren’t more reported cases from schools last year thanks in large part to the masking policy. The school DeSantis likes to cite is the exception rather than the rule. If you look closer at charter schools (and public schools to a some extent) contact tracing was a complete failure and practically non-existent as DeSantis has readily admitted. Documenting covid cases therefore fell to parents to self report. Schools like Jax Classical Academy were under tremendous pressure to keep those numbers low leading to underreporting much like many public schools do when it comes to referrals or disciplinary actions.
      As someone who works in public schools I was surprised at how well students followed the masking policy without being told to constantly mask up especially elementary school age. My students will not be eligible to receive the vaccine nor will my daughter. It seems like such a simple request but there are those like Cole Beasley in the NFL who would rather die on the culture war hill of not wearing masks so they can LIVE FREE…whatever that means.

      • Michael Hoffmann

        July 29, 2021 at 11:25 pm

        Jax Classical Academy is something else, isn’t it? Good ol’ Hillsdale College reaching out for the next generation of students, presumably more variegated.

        • Frankie M.

          July 30, 2021 at 3:33 pm


  • Ron Ogden

    July 30, 2021 at 6:18 am

    Pediatricians want masks in schools. Okay, but what do children and their parents want? Teaches, too, for that matter. That is the issue. They want to decide for themselves. They want the option. Simple. Best policy: Day one, each school holds a vote and the majority rules for that school. Everybody. Even little ones. As part of the program where parents teach for a day, I conducted a voting exercise in my daughter’s class. Once it was explained to the kids (first or second graders IIRC) what we were doing, they took it seriously and debated and voted on a real issue of classroom management. Don’t think the teacher liked it very much. Kids loved it and they abided by the result.

    • Frankie M.

      July 30, 2021 at 3:38 pm

      I am a teacher and a parent of two. One of which has been vaccinated, one that is too young. I HATE wearing masks but I will do so to help stop the spread. It’s not a perfect solution but it’s better than closing down schools and businesses because are hospitals are overrun. Think big picture.

      BTW…DCPS Superintendent Dr. Greene just instituted a 30 day mask mandate for DCPS employees & vendors so I don’t really have a choice anyway which is fine with me. She did not apply it towards students because she knew DeSantis would block it. Funny how she waited for his mandate to come down before sending out this email. Dr. Greene…queen of the half measures.

      • Michael Hoffmann

        July 30, 2021 at 7:39 pm

        I see Dr. G. as being forced into a style of bobbing and weaving as she does battle with the forces of reaction.

        She might have knocked out Richard Corcoran a few years back when he disrespected her as he might a female clerk in his office. Corcoran had it coming, but it was more important to keep her head and continue to work for better public schools funded with additional money voted by Duval taxpayers.

        Nor is there any sense in taking on the Guv. at this point about masks for students –especially since Broward schools have stepped forward.. (DeSantis appears headed to that point where he foists himself on his own petard.)

        My younger grand is being coached at home to wear a mask in public and hopefully he can withstand pressure to follow contrary advice when he sets foot in school on Aug. 10.

        Thanks for all you and your co-workers do!

        • Frankie M.

          July 30, 2021 at 9:05 pm

          I disagree. Greene is a politician plain and simple. She could have made a stand however futile it may have been. Instead she kowtowed to the powers that be and issued the Friday afternoon mea culpa to an audience of none. She is not a leader but just another empty suit in a long line of empty suits. Based on her empty rhetoric she has a future in state politics. Dick Corcoran should watch his back.

          • Michael Hoffmann

            July 31, 2021 at 9:29 pm

            Ouch! But, you noticed that even Broward backed down. Gadsden will, too.

            Tying up folks in court and bleeding them dry is the Trumpican MO — meanwhile they get their way.

            Watch them on reapportionment for a classic example.

  • tjb

    July 30, 2021 at 9:01 am

    I think the next classroom vote should be on recess, free period, and ice cream for the entire day. I think this is a winning ticket and the majority of kids will vote for this.

    • Ron Ogden

      July 30, 2021 at 11:34 am

      That’s a nickel-and-dime comment from a pocket change mind. If you actually converse with young people, even in elementary school, you will find that if you treat them seriously (which means understanding their desires as well as their limitations) most of them will return the favor. You must be burnt out public school teacher. Talking to them, not lecturing them, is what is needed.

      • Tjb

        July 30, 2021 at 12:30 pm

        Are you putting down public school teachers?

        • Ron Ogden

          July 30, 2021 at 12:35 pm

          No. Putting down you.

          • Tjb

            July 30, 2021 at 12:41 pm

            Thank you, Ron Ogden, for making it personal.

  • PeterH

    July 30, 2021 at 10:50 am

    Ultimately science will dictate how schools will or will not operate. The fact is, until recently, we knew little of this Covid variant that is now gripping the unvaccinated around the globe. This variant is far more contagious, far more dangerous and as was recently revealed the variant can be unknowingly passed from healthy vaccinated individuals to the unvaccinated.

    Since only 49% of Americans are fully vaccinated this virus strain is quickly filling pediatric and general population hospitals ….. particularly in areas where vaccinations are the lowest and individuals are not taking personal responsibility.

    Florida is off-season, the fully vaccinated seniors who own northern real estate have vacated the state. The State is currently contributing 20% of the newly infected national average. While Ron DeSantis is wringing his hands on National issues pertaining to abortion access and whining about Anthony Fauci …… the infection rate, hospitalization rate and death rate is currently doubling every ten days……primarily impacting the unvaccinated. Coupled with heavily politicized Republican failed Covid leadership…..we have Florida citizens lacking in personal responsibility.

    • Ron Ogden

      July 30, 2021 at 11:43 am

      I reiterate, science has been so far behind the power curve on this that it has rendered itself laughable, and D’s like Biden and Fouch, (and you, I guess), who can’t lift their gaze up from the actuarial tables of public administration to understand the human consequences of their bureaucratic power plays, are equally laughable, or would be if they didn’t have the fearsome power of the untrammelled state leaping to their whims.

      • Tjb

        July 30, 2021 at 12:37 pm

        Can you explain in detail how science has been behind the curve. Or perhaps how the variations in the Covid 19 virus has changed the curve.

        • Ron Ogden

          July 30, 2021 at 2:17 pm

          March 2020, Science News–“The coronavirus pandemic circling the globe is caused by a natural virus, not one made in a lab, a new study says.
          The virus’s genetic makeup reveals that SARS-CoV-2 isn’t a mishmash of known viruses, as might be expected if it were human-made. And it has unusual features that have only recently been identified in scaly anteaters called pangolins, evidence that the virus came from nature, Kristian Andersen and his colleagues report March 17 in Nature Medicine” (My note: remember the pangolins? What a joke!)

          June 2021, Daily Mail–“The new virus contains a segment called CGG-CGG, which is considered rare even in experiments in which researchers are trying to manipulate virus.
          But even more telling is that this combination has never been found naturally in any other type of coronavirus, including in SARS and MERS, both of which are cousins of the new virus.
          ‘A virus simply cannot pick up a sequence from another virus if that sequence isn’t present in any other virus,’ Quay and Muller wrote.
          ‘The CGG-CGG combination has never been found naturally. That means the common method of viruses picking up new skills, called recombination, cannot operate here.”
          Merely one example, which even Dems, with their abiding thirst for KoolAid would have to agree point to science walking around with its collective pants down.

  • Tjb

    July 30, 2021 at 2:40 pm

    Wow, Ron, your sources to support your position are fantastic, they are so credible, They are truly beyond reproach . Next you will be quoting articles from “The Onion “ and National Enquirer. Keep up the good work Ron.

  • Frankie M.

    July 30, 2021 at 3:40 pm

    via Dr. Green of DCPS minutes ago

    Team Duval,

    Like so many of you, I had hoped the start of the new school year would be a return to a traditional school opening filled with smiling faces, hugs and stories about summer experiences during the pandemic. Unfortunately, despite the actions of many of you, our local COVID-19 numbers have continued to soar. This warrants the district reopening school another year with layered mitigation strategies. In order for classes to resume in person as well as schools and the district to remain open, we must all continue to do our part.

    I am certain that many of you are aware of the debate regarding mandatory mask mandates. I have reviewed the guidance and recommendations from many authoritative health and education agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Florida Department of Health (FDOH), the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) and other health experts. Although some of the guidance has been conflicting, what is clear to me is the devastating toll that the COVID-19 virus has had on our community. Sadly, our own DCPS family has been tragically impacted by the loss of several employees over the past two weeks. Morally, I simply cannot enter another school year without ensuring every reasonable precaution is being taken to ensure the safety of our students, employees and our community. I have concluded that to best protect our students and employees, a temporary mask requirement for all district employees is needed immediately.

    Effective Monday, August 2nd, all employees, district vendors, and visitors will be required to wear masks or facial coverings in our schools and district facilities for a period of 30 days. During this time, we will partner with FDOH-Duval to offer COVID-19 vaccinations to eligible students and employees at identified secondary school sites. We will also provide duty-free time for district employees to get vaccinated. Following this 30-day period, masks will be optional for district and school-based employees. Employees with a documented medical condition prohibiting the wearing of cloth facial coverings should consult with Human Resources regarding the process for requesting an exemption.

    The governor announced today that he will be issuing an Executive Over to prevent school districts from mandating mask requirements for students. Had it not been for this announcement, this 30-day mandate would be applied to all PreK-12 students as well and would extend for elementary students when indoors until such time as vaccinations are readily available and families can elect to have their student vaccinated. While I can not require the wearing of masks, we will continue to strongly encourage students to wear facial coverings when indoors. We will also do all that we can to support students and families with access to vaccines until the rate of COVID-19 transmission in our community is at a safe level.

    I know that this decision will not be popular for some employees and families, while for others the decision will be welcomed. For all, please know that as superintendent, this decision was made after very careful thought and consideration. While as an organization, we strive to create environments where individuals positions are considered and valued, there are times when all other factors are usurped by the basic requirement to ensure students and employees remain safe. This is such a time. I thank you in advance for your compliance and understanding.

    Kind regards,

    Dr. Diana Greene


    Duval County Public Schools

    1701 Prudential Drive

    Jacksonville, FL 32207

    Tel: (904)390-2115

    Fax: (904)390-2586

  • Andrew Finn

    July 30, 2021 at 9:02 pm

    Of course the pediatricians want the children to wear masks (and be safer) in the schools. That’s because they are smart. Certainly way smarter than our jackass governor, who only cares about his political future and not the people of Florida. Can’t wait to vote for anyone (and I mean anyone at all) who runs against the idiot we have now. I surely miss old Claude Kirk these days !!!!!

  • Frankie M.

    July 30, 2021 at 9:14 pm

    It never ceases to amaze me how those people with no skin in the game are the first to throw others under the bus. It was the same in Iraq as it is now. Where do Ronnie’s kids go to school? Oh wait they’re too young. How convenient…put YOUR kids where your mouth is! Sending kids to school without a mask right now is CHILD ABUSE.

    • Michael Hoffmann

      July 31, 2021 at 9:32 pm

      What are the elite private schools doing about masking students, e.g., Bolles, Epsicopal, Bishop Kenny?

  • Andrew Finn

    July 31, 2021 at 10:01 am

    You got that right on the spot Frankie. If wearing masks would guarantee that our idiot governor would be re-elected we all would have them super-glued to our faces by executive order by now. Can’t wait to vote for anybody – and I mean ANYBODY who runs against that jackass !!!!!

Comments are closed.


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