Gareth Everett is 12 years old and he is very excited to start 6th grade at South Tampa Academy in the fall. He got accepted into the computer science program and he can’t wait for August 10th!
Gareth also battles cystic fibrosis and has limited lung capacity.
On a typical day, you’d never know Gareth has any health issues. But during these times of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gareth has to be EXTRA careful to stay healthy.
Yesterday, his mom Annie received a letter from the Cystic Fibrosis Center at Johns Hopkins University, where Gareth gets treatment. It informed them that if there is no mandatory mask mandate in schools, it would be impossible for Gareth to attend.
Gareth was crushed.
Annie says she had a good cry and felt a decent amount of fear. She has a full-time job and didn’t know how she was going to manage educating Gareth at home.
She signed up to speak at Tuesday’s School Board Meeting to plead with the District to make masks mandatory… Not just for her son but for ALL the children and teachers who NEED that extra layer of protection in order to attend school.
Superintendent Addison Davis beat her to the punch.
After speaking with medical professionals from the University of South Florida Health and Tampa General Hospital, business leaders, and teachers in our district, Superintendent Davis made the decision to require face coverings in our schools when kids go back to school.
“Yes, there will be challenges and concerns, but I’m confident these obstacles will be met with empathy and understanding to ensure we’re creating a safe learning environment for all,” Superintendent Davis said. “We will continue to monitor updates and health recommendations for this ever-changing situation. When we get the green light to remove this requirement, we will do so.”
Annie said she felt extremely grateful when she received the Superintendent’s email informing families of mandatory masks. She can now send her son to school and feel like his health is protected… And she doesn’t have to worry about working while trying to guide her son through eLearning.
As for Gareth… there’s a big smile behind his red, white and blue mask. Middle school… Here he comes!