MURDOCK — Three Lemon Bay High School students stood before the Charlotte County School Board and urged them to impose a mask mandate, after explaining how students are coming to school with COVID-19 symptoms.
Their appearance came during the public comment portion of the meeting Thursday evening, after the board unanimously adopted its 2021-22 budget.
“Kids are coming to school sick; teachers do not stop them, even when they cough and sneeze,” said Kiley Rydberg, a senior.
She said about 30 students have shown up with symptoms.
“Masks decrease COVID which could lead to hospitalization and deaths,” she said.
She said she knew two people who have died in last week from COVID.
“There is no worse way to die than on a ventilator,” she said.
Rydberg continued her plea.
“I don’t think you want to play ‘who gets a hospital bed,’” she said.
McKenna Lipkin, also a senior, cited COVID numbers reported on the Charlotte County Public Schools dashboard.
“On Sept. 12, there were 11 cases; yesterday, there were 33.”
She also gave county statistics and said there has been “a 1,411% increase from 2020.”
Lipkin also mentioned a study whose “data showed that if 30% wear masks, there will be a 10% decrease in COVID cases…. It is difficult for students when teachers are out sick.”
She told the board that their decision was “selfish.”
“It forces students to never return to their county. Please reconsider your position and mandate,” she said. “How many students will pass away before you take this seriously?”
Rydberg’s twin, Kara, also a senior, said two of her teachers were out sick with COVID but had to return to work “because they ran out of sick days.”
“I feel my school district has failed us. I go to school everyday knowing I could bring this disease home to my family,” Kara Rydberg said. “Students’ voices are being ignored. It feels as if we’re in a COVID ward.”
Kiley Rydberg said she had already started a vaccination campaign in her school.
Ian Vincent addressed the students.
“I thank you for coming; you are passionate about what you believe in,” he said.
Kim Amontree also thanked them and said their presentation “was well thought out.” She expressed alarm over the allegation that students were coming to school with COVID symptoms, and called for it “to be investigated.”
She iterated that masks plus vaccines would be a way to fight the coronavirus.
“Encourage your fellow students to be vaccinated,” Amontree said.