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Parents petition the Pinellas school district

There is "not enough evidence to support that kids will be safe," the letter says.
A view from the window of a classroom looking down to the courtyard and walkways on campus at Gibbs High School 850 34th St S, in St Petersburg. (photo taken 3/10/15)
A view from the window of a classroom looking down to the courtyard and walkways on campus at Gibbs High School 850 34th St S, in St Petersburg. (photo taken 3/10/15) [ SHADD, DIRK | Times (2015) ]
Published Jul. 14, 2020

In advance of today’s 9:30 a.m. Pinellas County School Board workshop on the school district’s reopening, here is an example of the letters and emails that are pouring into school board offices on both sides of Tampa Bay. Parent activist Laura McCrary said she gathered the signatures on this letter in 24 hours time.

The Tampa Bay Times Times will live-tweet and cover the board workshop, and a similar workshop in Hillsborough County on Thursday afternoon.

The letter:

July 13, 2020

We the undersigned community parents, teachers, school staff, doctors, taxpayers and constituents would like to state what should be a very non-controversial position on returning to school during a global pandemic:  we support a virtual return rather than a physical return to our school buildings in August. 

At the present time, it is unequivocally unsafe for us to conduct in-person learning.  Research is certain that this illness is airborne and highly contagious, especially indoors.  It is unsafe for people to be gathering indoors in large groups at any location; however, it is particularly unsafe to do so in Pinellas County’s Public School facilities where we have poor air quality systems and many classrooms without windows. 

Therefore, the push for students and teachers to return to in-person learning at the beginning of the school year amounts to the following statement:  We know this is unsafe for staff and students and we know that some people will die as a result.  Governor Ron DeSantis has said we need to heed the guidance from the CDC, which includes avoiding closed spaces with poor ventilation, crowded places, and close-contact settings (all of which are unavoidable in the school environment).

The rationales provided are the following:

-Without school open, the economy will suffer

-Without a physical learning environment, the education of our children will be of lower quality

-Due to societal inequities of opportunities, not all students will have equal access to learning

-Without schools open, the health and well-being of children will suffer (Center for Pediatrics)

Society is telling us that the lives of staff and students are worth the sacrifice for the above; however we feel that as a society, we are failing to ask the right questions:

1.       Why is our entire economy resting on schools as childcare centers?  Shouldn’t American businesses in the year 2020 have advanced to the point that other countries have where childcare is provided by businesses, long-term parental leave is accommodated, and flexibility in working from home or the office is normal practice?

2.      Why have we allowed for an income gap that is so severe and distribution of resources that is so inequitable that we cannot provide online learning to all of our students?

3.      Why is it the case that schools, ostensibly responsible for education, have become the band-aid and solution to basic food access and healthcare services to families?

4.      Why are our schools so poorly resourced that we can’t even fund student and staff needs during normal times, and don’t even come close to having the money to accommodate the adjustments that would be necessary to make partial in-school learning feasible during a health crisis?

5.      If the economy so heavily depends on schools, why are businesses paying tax rates that allow for six figure salaries while school don’t even have functioning air-conditioning units?

We want to see this crisis prompt serious reflection on the larger structural problems that have been revealed by this pandemic.  To that end, we are calling on the School Boards, Superintendents, City Councils, and the Mayors to come together to have a discussion focused on what needs to happen for Florida to be able to weather a health crisis without putting people’s lives at risk.  Teachers need tech training, and the district needs a viable virtual plan for every grade level.  We should not be sending children and teachers into an environment until the cases decline for at least 30 days. 

Only then, should we be discussing a phased approach to re-opening schools. 

There is not enough evidence to support that kids will be safe if they are sent back to school, many of whom have high risk family members they could bring this home to.  Please re-consider online virtual school only until we see a 30 day decline in cases. 


Laura McCrary - Palm Harbor

Robert S Klein, Psychologist, PhD, PA – Palm Harbor

Christy M. Foust, Ph.D. - St. Petersburg, FL

Kathryn Malaxos

Anne E. White - St. Petersburg

Lisa Yenny Cocker – Tampa

Nilsa Holmes – Seminole

Collin Morrison – St. Petersburg

Mailyn Torres Caraballo - Ruskin

Jill King - Tarpon Springs

Shannon Vincent – St. Petersburg

Jennifer McLaurin Mazur - Clearwater

Alyson Nelson - PCSB employee

Timothy Hamlin - Wesley Chapel

Tina Suleiman - St Pete Beach

Erika Lorenzo Damiron - Ruskin

Lisa Wilcox - Brandon

Kathy Hockman - Parrish, FL (residence); Tampa (school)

Theresa Holland - Belleair

Terrance Holland - Belleair

John Oswald - Palm Harbor

Magen Oswald - Palm Harbor

Jeffrey Keiderling - Tarpon Springs

Kathleen Keiderling - Tarpon Springs

Stacey Hansen

Tonya Donati - St Petersburg

Lori Leal – Oldsmar

Carol McNamee - Safety Harbor

Denise Capri - Palm Harbor

Saughn Keehn - St. Petersburg

Tara Wood – Lithia

Chandra Olson – Clearwater

Tracy Weber - Palm Harbor

Bethany Bingham – Dunedin

Kristin Cooper – Tampa

Maresi Brown - St Petersburg

Diane McCarthy – Tampa

Michelle Gibson - St. Petersburg

Jessica Wood - Palm Harbor

Elizabeth Ellinger - St. Petersburg

Janna Bailey - St Petersburg

Keisha Snead - St. Petersburg

Daniel Montgomery - St. Petersburg

Laura Montgomery - St. Petersburg

Dimitra Stathopoulos - Belleair Beach

Savannah Kelly – Clearwater

Dayna Nichols - St. Petersburg

Emily Marston - St Petersburg

Tasha Hollingsworth – Seminole

Lindsay Lea – Oldsmar

Walker Lea – Oldsmar

Heather Leisch – Clearwater

Dorianne Nicholson – Oldsmar

Debra Canning - Kenneth City

Barbara Mamouzelos - Tarpon Springs

Barrie Evans – Clearwater

Culleen Maris – Seminole

Kalyn Klaustermeier – Largo

Mara Garner - St. Petersburg

Sherry Smith - Wesley Chapel

Sarah Weingart - Safety Harbor

Donna Davis Skinner - St. Petersburg

Terri L. Cunningham - Tarpon Springs

Tiffany Pepsin – Sarasota

Nancy Fry, Largo

LS Blätter - St. Petersburg

Cynthia Bradford – Largo

Melanie Mariani - St. Petersburg

Sandra Catanzaro - Saint Petersburg

Douglas Restom Gaskill - St. Petersburg

Rita Estes - Pinellas Park

Shauntel Smith - Tarpon Springs

Alisha Ford - St. Petersburg

Stephanie Friedman - Safety Harbor

Laurel Perry - Palm Harbor

Lisa Stavropoulos - Tarpon Springs

Sara Phelps – Largo

Delia M Doss - St. Petersburg

Renee O'Brien - St. Petersburg

Janet K Cunningham - Tarpon Springs

Becky Held - St. Petersburg

Heather Young - Wesley Chapel

Mona Rubino – Largo

Christie Cullen Smotzer - St Petersburg

Megan Hedblom - Tampa

Stephanie Saunders – Tampa

Natalie Steratore – Clearwater

Cassandra Moll - St. Petersburg

Judi Christie – Largo

Melissa Yates - Palm Harbor

Kathleen Chambers - Palm Harbor

Megan Barnitz – Bradenton

Donna Eshelman – Dunedin

Joanne H Kambouris - Palm Harbor

Diana Barbella – Clearwater

Alexandria Johnson - Tarpon Springs

Lauren Gentry - St. Petersburg

Cyndia Hixon - Palm Harbor

Timothy Smith - Land O' Lakes

Stephanie Spoon – Largo

Nicole Schrader - St Petersburg

Jessica Blaine - St. Petersburg

Lorelei Johnson Hester - St Pete

Rolanda Johnson - Palm Harbor

Erin Kaminsky – Largo

Carol Workman - Palm Harbor

Jessica Heger - Clearwater/St Pete

Annette Wylie - St. Petersburg

Robin McGill - St. Petersburg

Dana Vogan – Seminole

Tamara Vargas - Gulf Breeze, FL

Jamieson M. Bodeker – Clearwater

Katherine Little - St. Petersburg

Annette Weiler - St. Petersburg

Amber Robinson - St. Petersburg

Emily D. Molloy – Seminole

Jeannie Gagliardo - Palm Harbor

Tricia Kastner - St. Petersburg

Ann Maxfield – St. Petersburg

Carly Johnson - Wesley Chapel

Dee James - Palm Harbor

Elizabeth Crenshaw - Hillsborough County

Alicia Lamont - Pinellas Park

Danielle Shockey - Clearwater

Jennifer Cox - St. Petersburg

Kalie Barkley - Dunedin, Pinellas County

Paula Isett – Largo

Caprice Edmond - St. Petersburg

Lara Mccullough - Seminole

Janice Brown - Safety Harbor

Elizabeth Carter - St. Petersburg

Leanne Lapointe, Gulfport, FL

Jill Barncord - Tampa

Mary Jane Vehmeier – Seminole

Cassie Trombley – Largo

Nicole Shaffer – Seminole, FL

Laurie Delally - St. Petersburg

Dina Hensley - Seminole, FL

Jamie Allbritton – Clearwater

Laurie Barber - Palm Harbor

Beth Kaplan – Clearwater

Tara Cassman - St. Petersburg

Lauren Foley - Sun City Center

Susan Bowen - Palm Harbor

Dana Broadway- St. Petersburg

Meredith McDermott – Tampa

Stacy Henderlong - St. Petersburg

Stephani Rosa – Seminole, FL

Tammy Folstad – Dunedin

Lori Moore - Clearwater FL

Felicia Stamp - St. Petersburg

Nicole Wallis – Seminole, FL

Lindsay Brendis - St. Petersburg

Sarah Wilcox, Tampa

Jaime Kopkau – Seminole, FL

Wendy Beaver - Wesley Chapel

Lauren Leto - Seffner, FL

Angela Turner - Bradenton FL

Mary Canning – Clearwater, FL

Maggie McCann - Saint Petersburg

Emma Toure - St. Petersburg

Faith Turner – Riverview

Georgia Madalvanos - Tarpon Springs

Beth Sudduth - Seminole FL

Jennifer Hughes - Pinellas Park

Rev Margaret Raynolds - St Petersburg

Dawn Raynolds - St Petersburg

Kim Mardis – Seminole

Kimberly Webster – Largo

Beatrice Suzette Scott - St Petersburg

Loretta Inman – Jacksonville, FL

Shirley Linwood – Largo

Mona-Rose Bedard - Wesley Chapel, Florida

Randi Lacey - St. Petersburg

Amy Wilbur - Valrico, Fl

Karl Conyers – Dunedin, FL

Connie Semancik Glasgow – Clearwater

Debbie Price – Largo

Hope Sparks – Clearwater

Ray Sparks – Clearwater

Cathy Sparks – Clearwater

Sara Sparks - Clearwater

Velva Lee Heraty - St. Petersburg

Isabel Glenn - St. Petersburg

Julie Bellitt – Largo

Jennifer Allen – Tampa

Michelle Haber – Largo

Tricia Burton - Lutz, FL

Ashlyn Silver – Seminole, FL

Ashley Gaska – Tampa

Maggie Barner - Pinellas Park

Kelly Leavy Barnes - Safety Harbor

Jeanna Harvey – Riverview

Tiffany Williamson – Oldsmar

Vanessa Canfield – Tampa

Felicia Jenkins - Saint Petersburg

Amanda Dorsey - St. Petersburg

Melissa Shible - St. Petersburg

Denise McCollum - St. Petersburg

Deanna Brunk - St. Petersburg

Kit Raymond – Dunedin

Sylvia Beaver

April Hall - Pinellas Park

Erin Goergen – Dunedin

T Stella Noetzel - St. Petersburg

Debby Farias – Largo

Ellen Tompkins - Pinellas Park

Tierra Jefferson – Tampa

Jill Pfluke - Spring Hill

Maryann Wray - St. Petersburg

Audrey Rutter – Largo

Alyssa Wray - St. Petersburg

Sue Shockey – Largo, FL

Bonnie Warren – Clearwater, FL

Marie Hamm – Clearwater, FL

Jennifer Holden - Seminole, FL

Natalie Cooper - Saint Petersburg

Douglas Thonen - Saint Petersburg

Stu Canfield – Tampa

Candyl Eyster - Safety Harbor, FL

Laura Hohl - St. Petersburg

Kayla Carreira – Riverview

Lynn Hemp - Polk County

Keri Woloszynski - Palm Harbor FL

Dana Demetree – Clearwater

Kelly Bayes – Largo, FL

Amy Matthews - Palm Harbor, FL

Kristin Crawford - Palm Harbor, FL

Kelley Farrow - St Petersburg

Tara Florell - St. Petersburg

Carey Koss - Trinity, FL

Suzanne Pace - St. Petersburg

Deborah Minkle – Seminole

Barbara Schuler - Safety Harbor

Treena Hoaglan - St Petersburg

Cheryl Dulin – Seminole, FL

Adrienne Aguilar - St Petersburg

Sylvia Beaver - Wesley Chapel, FL

Valerie Christou - Palm Harbor, FL

Stefanie Frump - St. Petersburg

Esther Robinson - St Petersburg

Pamela Grimes - St. Petersburg

Charity Henesy-Brooks - Wesley Chapel

Celina Bellanceau – Lutz

Sarah DeTurk - Palm Harbor

K. Jeanette Gemmer – Largo

Michelle Page - St Petersburg

Nicole DuBuque – Largo

Allison Chester - Tarpon Springs

Melissa L Newman - South Pasadena

Joyce Townsend-Oakes – Largo

Allison Sweeney – Largo

David Rouse – Largo

Melynda Farnham - Pinellas Park

Lori Duvall – Clearwater

Lizz Singh - St Petersburg

Janice Howell – Seminole

Sandra Berg - Tarpon Springs, FL

Catherine Johnston - St. Petersburg

Lisa Broome - Safety Harbor

Kristin Luczaj – Seminole, FL

Kim Pearson – Seminole, FL

Deborah Fugate – Seminole, FL

Amanda Parker - St. Petersburg

Janet Hanson – Largo

Susan Herzig - St. Petersburg

Jessica Ellis - Seminole, FL

Cathy Carey - Bradenton, FL

Rhonda Halpern – Seminole

Laura Michaels – Seminole

Diane Cato – Seminole

Karen Ardis - Safety Harbor

Kelly Rouse – Largo

Lesa Harrison Kurk – Gulfport

Veronica Rotondo Foley – Largo

Rev Claudia Kappel – Clearwater

Charlotte Vyverberg – Seminole

Loretta Buckner - Palm Harbor

Alexandra Panos - St. Petersburg

Joseph Porter - St. Petersburg

Jo Ann Panos –Naples

Constantine Panos - Naples

Savannah Herzig, -St. Petersburg

Kim Chastain - St. Petersburg, FL

Dawn Raynolds

Jacqui Hosman – Dunedin

Lisa Cesarini - Palm Harbor

Sarah Herzig - St. Petersburg

Carole Cassidy - St. Petersburg

Tammy Jaycox Kaplan - Kenneth City, Fl

Jennifer Griffith - St. Pete Beach