8-year-old starts petition to make masks optional in Seminole County schools

With only a couple of weeks left in the school year, an 8-year-old boy named Charlie is taking the mask mandate into his own hands in Seminole County.

"We basically went a bunch of places," the boy explained.

Charlie said he has collected 400 signatures in four days to make masks optional in Seminole County schools.

"I don’t want people to feel uncomfortable by not wearing a mask."

He even got his pal, Reagan, to help out as well. 

"Some people like to wear them and some people don’t," she said.

The children stayed polite while they stood outside Tuesday's Seminole County School Board meeting, as the mask mandate was discussed.

One parent, Jessica Tilman, told the board, "I demand that you call a vote to end this disastrous mandate tonight [Tuesday]. Allow families to make their own healthcare choices immediately."

Another, Michelle Burroughs, also spoke.

"It’s time to listen to the people that voted you guys in here," she said. "Otherwise, we’re gonna vote you out. We’re done."

There are around 67,000 students and 4,500 teachers in Seminole County.

Dan Smith, of the Seminole Education Association, said he is concerned for the health of those teachers.

"It would be a shame for ease of use to suddenly take the masks off and get sick again. We don’t want that."

According to Seminole School data, there are currently 52 COVID cases in the district. Throughout the year, there have been around 1,500, with many more in quarantine.

Seminole County School Board Spokesman Michael Lawrence said they plan to reconsider the mask mandate in June.

"Teachers, district personal, as well as health professionals. So, we’ll take their guidance as well and feedback into making a decision," he said.

As for Charlie, he said it’s hard for him to breathe with a mask on.

"People are still going to wear masks, but we should not be made to do it anymore. I think a lot of people agree with me. Thank you."

The Seminole County School Board could vote on the mask mandate on June 1.