TAMPA, Fla. — More than a dozen parents of students in Hillsborough County schools came to Tuesday afternoon's school board meeting to express their support for the district's decision to mandate students, faculty, and staff wear masks when classes resume in the fall.

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Superintendent Addison Davis announced face coverings will be mandatory for students on Tuesday morning. 

More than a dozen parents showed up to Tuesday’s school board meeting prepared to fight for a mask mandate. But after the Tuesday morning announcement, the consensus was nearly unanimous. 

One of those parents was Annie Everett. Her son, Gareth, has cystic fibrosis and has been wearing masks since the age of two. 

“I was born with 70 percent lung function, which means I have a hard time breathing," Gareth told the board members. "But I can still wear a mask."

Annie feared having to home school him if masks weren’t made mandatory, which would have meant Gareth missing out on joining the computer science program of his dreams in the fall. 

“I was delighted to get the email today from Mr. Davis that said that there was mandatory masks,” she said. 


However, masks are only the beginning. 

Some teachers expressed their concerns with the next steps. 

“The enforcement is the key," said teacher Selena Lewis. "That one child that has the autoimmune disorder. How will he be safe in a time like this? And what will we need to do to ensure that?”

Davis went through countless slides during Tuesday afternoon’s meeting to show board members what reopening will look like. 

Some of the changes include staggered arrivals/dismissals, different classroom layouts, and frequent hand washing breaks throughout the day. 

“[Wednesday] I have a meeting with some district staff members to be able to go through this and have a better understanding of implementation plans and how we will make sure that every child feels comfortable,” Davis told board members. 



Meanwhile, the declaration of intent is also being pushed back to July 17. 

Parents will have three enrollment options- brick and mortar attendance, eLearning, or Hillsborough Virtual School. 

So far, 23 percent of the student body has responded, with 68 percent saying they’ll return to school like normal. 

While they work on getting those answers, moms like Everett are just thankful for a step in what she says is the right direction. 

“We really are all in this together," she said. "That’s what I felt when I read that [email]. We really do love one another, we're going to take care of one another."