We need a mask mandate and social distancing in place now! Last year, we had social distancing in place and a mask mandate, which we ultimately see with the factual data, worked, since we had 807 positive COVID cases in our schools for the entire 2020-21 school year. Unfortunately as of Sept. 13, we have 1,257 COVID cases in our schools. So now we know those precautions actually worked.

These first weeks of school have been extremely hard on my kids; classmates gone from one day to the next, teachers absent for a lengthy amount of time. We have had bus drivers out. I’ve heard parents say, “I can’t keep my kids home when sick, I can’t miss work.” The lack of precautions in our schools has a domino effect for our entire community.

How long can we keep our schools functioning like this? Kids need to be in school, I want to go back to a society were we don’t need masks and social distancing, but unfortunately with the way things are currently being handled, it seems farther and farther away.

For us to be able to go back to some kind of normalcy, we have to follow certain guidelines. Why would we not want to implement something as simple as wearing a mask and social distancing if this helps keep our kids in a more consistent learning environment, and our children, teachers and the families they go home to safe? It’s a no brainer. And again, this was proven to work last year; there is no arguing the numbers.

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So I ask the school board to follow the recommendations from our own Citrus County DOH official Tito Rubio who said at last year’s meeting, and I quote, “mask wearing is the No. 1 defense against this virus.” The Academy of Pediatrics, the Center for Disease Control and numerous experts have spent their lives studying and working on these matters and certainly know more than politicians who have absolutely no expertise in this area. We must do everything in our power to protect our children.

Amanda Polania