I have been an educator for 50 years. For most of my career, I taught in Alachua County (Gainesville), except for one year in Citrus County, one year in St. Johns County and one year in Flagler County. I am very proud that our Superintendent of Schools in Alachua County, Dr. Carlee Simon, instituted a mask mandate when schools opened this year.

I baked her one of my bundt cakes and brought it to Gainesville, along with a note telling her she is a hero! I also called the Superintendent of Schools in Leon County (Tallahassee), where our 9-year-old grandson goes to school, to thank him for instituting a mask mandate, there. Our grandchildren in other states are also wearing masks and socially distancing in school.

We have not seen our children or grandchildren for almost two years, even though everyone who is eligible has been vaccinated. It breaks our hearts every time we FaceTime with them, because we miss them so much. Several of our children are teachers or professors. We are all doing everything we can to listen to Dr. Fauci and other scientists so that we can end this pandemic.

Get more from the Citrus County Chronicle

I have lived in Citrus County for six years. The best thing that happened here was meeting my new husband, after we lost several spouses, between us. I loved teaching, here for a year, and found the teachers and administrators to be very dedicated. When Mrs. Himmel was awarded “Superintendent of Schools For The Year” for the state of Florida, I baked her one of my bundt cakes to congratulate her.

Therefore, I am very surprised and disappointed that she and the school board have chosen not to institute a mask mandate to protect our vulnerable children, teachers and support staff here in Citrus County. My husband and I wear our masks whenever we go out. We miss going to plays, restaurants, concerts, our Moose Lodge, karaoke, and other places to socialize.

However, we are choosing to do things that are safe and protect us and others. We get very upset when we see so many people here choosing not to get vaccinated and/or not to wear masks. Our medical heroes are overwhelmed, and cases of children going to the hospital with COVID are rising at an alarming rate. We hope a vaccine for children will be forthcoming soon.

As many people have said, “we are all in this together.” Let’s all do what we can to end this nightmare.

Linda Coughlin

Beverly Hills