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Dozens expressed opinions on mandating masks in Hillsborough County schools

Parents spoke at Tuesday's meeting
Posted at 9:07 PM, May 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-19 08:15:47-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Dozens showed up to the Hillsborough County School Board meeting to express their concerns over mandating masks in public schools.

At Tuesday's meeting, more than 40 parents and students spoke during public comment. The public comment lasted for hours. The board was expected to discuss mandating masks in schools for the next school year.

The majority of speakers spoke out against mandating masks. Parents also gathered outside the building to express their opinions to drivers who passed.

"This is way beyond the pandemic. This is about control. We've done it for a year and I'm hoping she can spend her senior year next year mask-free," said Ruth Lineberger, a parent.

Students also spoke against wearing masks. One child said it interferes with his ability to learn.

"Masks are distracting. They distract me when I'm doing my classwork and taking tests," said one student who spoke to board members.

A physician did speak to board members and expressed concerns over removing masks before vaccines are available to all students.

"There's no vaccine available yet for children under 12. Clinical trials are ongoing, but vaccines won't be available until late fall or perhaps early 2022," said the physician.

"Some parents at least are reluctant to send their children to school if masks are not mandatory or at a minimum strongly encouraged," she added.

The board did not take a vote on Tuesday. The board's attorney said a vote would take place during the summer either in June or July. A public hearing will be held with public comment.