Anti-maskers freak out over Florida school mandate: ‘Give them back their childhood!’

Anti-masker parents are already gearing up to fight coronavirus mandates for the next school year, which doesn't start for nearly four months.

Palm Beach County school officials have no plans to drop their mask requirements in spite of a letter from the state's education commissioner urging districts to drop their mandates for the upcoming school year, and unhappy parents picketed against the decision, reported WPTV-TV.

"Why are we doing this to our children, why?" said one parent. "Give them back their childhood."

Education commissioner Richard Corcoran wrote that broad mask mandates "serve no remaining good at this point," despite reporting that shows 21 percent of new COVID-19 cases are among children under 16, who are not yet approved for the vaccines.

"I'm tired of people believing a lie that masks help you," said one mother, who apparently agrees with the education commissioner.

But school board member Dr. Debra Robinson told The Palm Beach Post it's premature to drop the mask mandates, even with efforts inside school buildings to limit social contacts among students, faculty and staff.

"The points [Corcoran] makes about inhibiting person-to-person interaction are true, but we are still in a pandemic," said Robinson, a retired physician. "We have more contagious variants exploding. We have some variants that show resistance to vaccines. I just said last week, 'We cannot let our guard down.'

The district will continue to follow guidelines for now, and 69 percent of the county's teachers favor keeping the mask mandate, according to their union, although 57 percent would like the option to allow fully vaccinated teachers to remove their masks while delivering instructions from a safe distance.

Despite the protests, school officials say it's much too early to make decisions for the 2021/2022 school year, which is scheduled to begin the second week in August.

"I would hope the viral load will have subsided in the community to such a degree I would feel comfortable," Robinson said. "But it's way too early to have that conversation -- way too early."