The Executive Board of the Sarasota County Democratic Party, under the leadership of County Chair JoAnne DeVries, joins other county parties around Florida and calls on the Sarasota County School Board to require all staff and students to wear masks and to institute social distancing strategies when schools open on August 10th. It is imperative that the board take immediate action to protect our children from the dangerous surge in COVID-19 cases in our county and around the state.

This week, the state of Florida reported the highest number of pediatric COVID-19 hospital admissions in the nation. Local area hospitals also report a record number of pediatric COVID-19 cases, and the number of children in intensive care units is rising dramatically. Doctors report the sharpest increase is among children under 12, who are not yet eligible for vaccination.

Measures must be put in place immediately. With children packed together in classrooms and on school buses, and with no requirement to wear masks, infection can quickly get out of control, sickening children in unprecedented numbers and leading to community spread.

We strongly request that you uphold your duty to not only educate our children, but also to ensure their safety. Numerous studies have shown that common-sense measures like mask wearing and social distancing dramatically reduce disease transmission. The American Academy of Pediatrics and its Florida chapter have both strongly recommended re-introducing these safety precautions as the much more infectious Delta variant of the virus spreads.

This is not a political issue in which varying viewpoints are equally worthy; it is a full-blown public health crisis. School board members, as public officials elected to both safeguard and educate our children, must help reduce the risks to their health and safety.

Sarasota County Democratic Party
JoAnne DeVries, Chair