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More calls for masks in Hillsborough schools

Parents and teachers are trying to change the policy from optional to mandatory
Jessica Nelson, a pre-kindergarten and kindergarten teacher at Mitchell Elementary School, Tampa, helps a pre-kindergarten student apply hand sanitizer before entering the school, Monday, June 22, 2020. Monday was the first day for the pre-kindergarten program with Covid-19 protocols at the school. All students wore masks, had their temperatures taken, and social distanced.
Jessica Nelson, a pre-kindergarten and kindergarten teacher at Mitchell Elementary School, Tampa, helps a pre-kindergarten student apply hand sanitizer before entering the school, Monday, June 22, 2020. Monday was the first day for the pre-kindergarten program with Covid-19 protocols at the school. All students wore masks, had their temperatures taken, and social distanced. [ SCOTT KEELER | Times ]
Published Jul. 6, 2020
Updated Jul. 6, 2020

UPDATE: We are now hearing that Tuesday’s protest outside the School Board headquarters has been postponed as teachers union leaders sat down Monday for a meeting with superintendent Addison Davis.

Addison Davis, superintendent of Hillsborough County Schools, meets with teachers to discuss reopening plans for the district
Addison Davis, superintendent of Hillsborough County Schools, meets with teachers to discuss reopening plans for the district [ Hillsborough County Public Schools ]

TAMPA — In advance of Tuesday’s meeting of the Hillsborough County School Board, proponents of mandatory masks at school have continued to call for a stricter policy.

A letter to that effect went out over the weekend, signed by close to 200 people who identified themselves as physicians. We are printing the petition below.

So far, the district has said it is providing a limited number of reusable masks for children, but only encouraging their use.

PREVIOUS: Parents: Children should wear masks to school

Calls went out over Facebook for concerned citizens to gather outside the School Board building at 3:30 p.m. for a socially distanced, masked protest. Those interested were also asked to address the board during the public comment period. The initial announcement said the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association was behind this event. But union spokeswoman Stephanie Baxter-Jenkins said it was not a union-organized event, and a notice went out later clarifying that fact.

Either way, interest is high on the subject of masks.

Tuesday’s board meeting begins at 4 p.m. at 901 E Kennedy Boulevard.

The letter:

Dear Superintendent Davis and Hillsborough County School Board:

As a concerned group of Pediatricians and Physicians serving children and teachers/staff in Hillsborough County, we urge you to mandate masks and face coverings in our public schools during this global pandemic of COVID-19.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations in COVID-19 Planning Considerations: Guidance for School Re-entry (attached) indicate that masks and face coverings are high priority for elementary, middle, and high school students.

Exemptions to wearing masks for children with individualized education plans or with medical conditions that would prohibit safe and effective use of masks should be handled on a case-by-case basis. Though some of our youngest (pre-school and kindergarten) students may be initially unable to wear a mask the full school day, with time and proper modeling, many of these young students may be able to properly wear masks when social distancing is not possible.

At a population level, masks are undeniably useful at reducing cases of COVID-19 in our community. Mask usage is most effective when all persons wear them, and families that chose to not wear masks endanger others by risking asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic spread of the virus. Mandating masks in our schools can: 1) prevent spread of viral infection that will compromise the health of children, their families and school employees, 2) reduce outbreaks that will threaten school or classroom closure 3) prevent unnecessary time off work for parents, staff and teachers, and 4) save health care resources of our pediatric practices which will be tasked with testing and clearing students for return to school.

We appreciate the hard work of our educators and administrators in Hillsborough County. We value the guidance and commitment of our School Board to make schools safe, accessible, and academically robust. We hope that you will follow the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics and make masks and face coverings required for students and faculty in our schools.


1. Anne M. Lenz, MD (Pediatrician, Endocrinology)

2. Tiffany Hernandez, MD (General Pediatrician)

3. Kiersten Hartlage, MD (General Pediatrician)

4. Leigh J. Ruth, MD (Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)

5. Sapnalaxmi Amin, MD (Family Medicine)

6. Rachel Irby, MD (Internal Medicine, Infectious disease)

7. Alisa Pierce-Kee, MD (General Pediatrician)

8. Grace Dougan, MD (Pediatrician, Endocrinology)

9. Rebecca Pruitt, MD (General Pediatrician)

10. Karina A. Parilo, MD (Family Medicine)

11. Shikha Sharma, MD (Internal Medicine)

12. Crystal Jacovino, DO (Internal Medicine)

13. Elisa Thompson, MD, FAAFP (Family Medicine)

14. Lindsey Bowser, MD (Family Medicine)

15. Melinda Murphy, MD, FAAP (General Pediatrician)

16. Monique Sajjad, DO (Hematology-Oncology)

17. Eric Schilling, DO (Pulmonary Critical Care)

18. Paul Nanda, MD (Urgent Care Medicine)

19. Leslie Turner, MD (Pathology)

20. Edgard Janer, MD (Rheumatology)

21. Richard Wilde, MD, FAAP (General Pediatrician)

22. Preeti Kallu, MD (Internal Medicine)

23. Heather Simpson Khanna, MD (Adult and Adolescent Psychiatry)

24. Amanda Sergay, MD (Dermatology)

25. Lilly Chang, MD, DDS (Pediatric CranioMaxillofacial Surgery)

26. Eva Gupta, MD (Hematology-Oncology)

27. Parul Aneja, MD (Infectious Disease)

28. Anil Chopra, MD (Infectious Disease)

29. Kate Knupp, MD (Internal Medicine, Pediatrics)

30. Catherine Kubiak, MD (Allergy Immunology)

31. Maria del Pilar Cekan, MD (Family Medicine)

32. Alex Anton, MD (General Pediatrics)

33. Jacqueline Hartman, MD, FAAP (General Pediatrician)

34. Christina Paulson, MD (General Pediatrician)

35. Shara Young, MD (OB-Gyn)

36. Catherine Hough-Telford, MD (General Pediatrician)

37. Rachel Rapkin, MD, MPH (OG-Gyn)

38. Andrew Galligan, MD (Pediatric Hematology-Oncology)

39. Lisa Rush, MD (General Pediatrician)

40. Matt Minick, MD (General Pediatrician)

41. Francesca Sabia, MD, FAAP (General Pediatrician)

42. Eliana Piedrahita-Llano, MD (General Pediatrician)

43. Gwennaelle A. Wilson, MD, MPH, FAAP (General Pediatrician)

44. Mary Chrisochos, DO, FAAP (Pediatrician)

45. Jennifer White, MD (Psychiatry)

46. Bhumi Kumar, DO, FAAP (General Pediatrician)

47. Elizabeth Harris, MD (General Pediatrician)

48. Natasha Hughes, MD (General Pediatrician)

49. Nay Hoche, MD (OB-Gyn)

50. Madhurima Sanka, DO (Pediatrics, Allergy and Immunology)

51. Sheila Mak, DO (General Pediatrician)

52. Rachel Epstein, DO, FAAD, FACMS (Dermatology)

53. Celia Williams, DO (General Pediatrics)

54. Solimar Salud, MD (General Pediatrics)

55. Lauren Sequeira, MD (Family Medicine)

56. David Van, DO (Family Medicine)

57. Ria Ross, DO (Dermatology)

58. Jennifer Pesce, MD (General Pediatrician)

59. Tracey DeLucia, MD, PhD, FAAOS (Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery)

60. Danita Wongchantara, MD (Primary Care Medicine and Pediatrics)

61. Julie Dekle, MD (General Pediatrician)

62. Ashley McPhie, MD (General Pediatrician)

63. Sara Ansari, DO (General Pediatrician)

64. Anjali Nirmalani-Gandhy, MD (Child Psychiatry)

65. Ana Maria Oliva, MD (Ophthalmology)

66. Beena Wilkins, MD (General Pediatrician)

67. Rosmery Victoria, DO (Family Medicine)

68. Jennifer Sawka, MD (General Pediatrician)

69. Carolyn Robinson, MD, FAAP (Pediatrician, Pulmonology)

70. Theresa Dam Lohmiller, MD (Family Medicine)

71. Jean Del Valle, MD (Child Psychiatry)

72. Laura Cruse, MD (Rheumatology)

73. Denise Edward, MD (Internal Medicine- Pediatrics)

74. Tsu-Hui Lin, MD (Pediatrics, Endocrinology)

75. Kelly Grabbe, DO (Emergency Medicine)

76. Lisa Hayes, DO (General Pediatrician)

77. Maliena Longley, MD (Pediatrics, Allergy and Immunology)

78. Dolores Razman, MD (General Pediatrician)

79. Michelle Mendoza, MD (Emergency Medicine)

80. Julie Hallanger Johnson, MD (Endocrinology)

81. Lisa Champoux-Rhoden, MD (General Pediatrician)

82. Kimberly Hartney, MD (Psychiatry)

83. Marsha Ramsay, MD, FAAP (General Pediatrician)

84. Shahla Escobar, MD (Pediatric Anesthesiology)

85. R. Meredith Plant, MD, FCAAP (General Pediatrician)

86. Dana Obzut, MD (Pediatric Hematology-Oncology)

87. Sami Nallamshetty, MD (Allergy and Immunology)

88. Elizabeth Arrington, MD (Dermatology)

89. Stephanie Lewis, MD (Anesthesiology)

90. Sherley Valdez Arroyo, MD (Neurology)

91. Shelley Jaquish, MD (Otolaryngology)

92. Kristen Lagor, MD (General Pediatrician)

93. Dawn Palaszewski, MD (Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology)

94. Yvonne Latimer, MD (Family Medicine)

95. Paola Dees, MD, FAAP (Pediatrician, Hospitalist)

96. Galina Shistik, MD (Dermatology)

97. Elimarys Perez-Colon, MD (Internal Medicine-Pediatrics)

98. Mona Mangat, MD (Allergy and Immunology)

99. Glenda Parker, MD (Internal Medicine)

100. Leelakrishna Nallamshetty, MD (Radiology)

101. Eric Lenz, MD (Radiology)

102. Mark Hartney, MD (Surgery)

103. Jody Coonradt Barris, DO (Internal Medicine-Pediatrics)

104. Christine Clark, MD, FAAP (Internal Medicine-Pediatrics)

105. Tasmia Ahmed, MD (Family Medicine)

106. Laura Arline, MD FAAP, FACP (Pediatrics and Internal Medicine)

107. Beverly Deliz-Tirado, MD (Nephrology)

108. Noah DeVicente, MD (Gastroenterology)

109. Christina Stamoolis, MD (Family Medicine)

110. Sylvia Campbell, MD (Surgery)

111. Samantha Schaefer, MD (Pediatric Hematology-Oncology)

112. Lisa Cronin, MD (General Pediatrics)

113. Stanley Rosenthal, DO (General Pediatrics)

114. Marcy Solomon Baker, MD (General Pediatrics)

115. Kimberly Ginsberg Smoak, MD, FAAP (General Pediatrics)

116. Richard J. Sheridan, MD (Neonatologist)

117. John S. Curran, MD, FAAP (Pediatrician)

118. Laura Weathers, MD (Pediatrician)

119. Karen Paltoo, DO (Pediatrician)

120. Nancy Simons Ling, MD (Dermatologic Surgery)

121. Russell Radtke, MD (Pediatric Emergency Medicine)

122. Laura Levitt, MD (General Pediatrician)

123. Carina Rodriguez, MD (Pediatric Infectious Disease)

124. Mohan Rao, MD (Pediatrician, Neonatologist)

125. Enrique Escobar, MD (Cardiothoracic Anesthesiology)

126. Patricia J. Emmanuel, MD (Pediatrics, Infectious Disease)

127. Suzanne Jackman, MD (Pediatrics, Endocrinology)

128. Matthew Gates, MD (Pediatrics Resident)

129. Claudia Espinosa, MD (Pediatric Infectious Disease)

130. Dalys Gilling, MD (Pediatrician)

131. Christopher Griffith, MD (Pediatrician, Geneticist)

132. Tara M. Randis, MD, MS (Pediatrician, Neonatologist)

133. Phan Lindsey, MD (Pediatrician)

134. Maya Balakrishnan, MD, CSSBB (Pediatrician, Neonatologist)

135. Tony Kriseman, MD (Pediatric Pulmonologist)

136. Yanina Abaunza Fiallos, MD (Pediatrician)

137. Laura Drach, DO (Pediatrician)

138. Tanya Murphy, MD, MS (Psychiatry)

139. Esther Tatoy, MD (Pediatrician)

140. Jameson Kuang, MD (Internal Medicine-Pediatrics)

141. Juan Felipe Rico, MD (Pediatric Hematology-Oncology)

142. Carol M. Lilly, MD, MPH (Pediatrician)

143. Nicole Dinescu, DO (Internal Medicine-Pediatrics)

144. Mahad Mohammed, DO (Internal Medicine-Pediatrics)

145. Hugo Narvarte, MD (Internal Medicine- Pediatrics)

146. Erin Burgasser APRN (Pediatrics)

147. Patricia O’Brien MD, PhD, FAAP (Pediatrics)

148. Emma Westermann-Clark, MD (Allergy/Immunology)

149. Sagarika Nallu, MD (Pediatric Neurology)

150. Jennifer Takagishi, MD (Pediatrics)

151. Amy L. Weiss, MD, MPH (Pediatrics)

152. Beatriz A. Sankey, MD, MPH (Pediatrics)

153. Alfonso Campos, MD (Pediatric Nephrologist)

154. Karen Wickline, MD (Pediatrician)

155. Antoinette C. Spoto-Cannons, MD, FAAP (Pediatrician)

156. Don Eslin, MD (Pediatric Hematology-Oncology)

157. Carolyn L. Marasco, MD (Pediatrician)

158. Nicole Mulheron, MD (Pediatrician)

159. Monica Sams, DO (Pediatrician)

160. Karen Wickline, MD (Pediatrician, Neonatology)

161. Brooke Bavinger, MD (Pediatrician)

162. Julie Shamas, MD (Emergency Medicine)