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<p>School supplies for the COVID-19 age</p><p>Melinda Nagy - stock.adobe.com</p>
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The Volusia County School Board should require everyone to wear masks when school starts Aug. 16.

If anyone should be able to figure out the math here, it’s those in charge of teaching our children. And if leadership were ever required of our School Board, it’s required now.

Somebody needs to step up to protect our children and our teachers. Unfortunately, Florida’s governor is not going to do it, so the School Board will have to defy him. To save lives.

Here’s the math: Eight hundred twenty school-age children in Volusia County got sick with COVID-19 in the first 27 days of July.

That number, from less than one month, represents a third of all the children who have gotten the virus since the pandemic began 16 months ago.

The rate is rising. The growth is exponential. And school is starting in less than two weeks.

Our local positivity rate is over 20 percent. That’s more than double the rate the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said is safe for even opening schools.

Our own Department of Health is sharing data that suggest our students, teachers and other school workers are staring down the barrel of a gun.

On July 27, the CDC advised that everyone in K-12 schools should wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The CDC now recommends that all people — even those fully vaccinated — wear masks indoors in most situations.

Yet our School Board, with all of the data available to them, all the recommendations, hesitated to do anything.

Well, School Board Member Jamie Haynes did something. She talked for 20 minutes, making points such as, since no Volusia County children have died yet, there’s no reason to change course.

And what will happen if a local child dies due to COVID-19 complications that could have been prevented by commonsense precautions, like masks?

Schools are places for math, for science, for logic and reason, not for the divisiveness of partisan politics.

The safety of our teachers, students and other faculty is at stake. As hospitals fill and health care workers face burdens as extreme or worse than during the previous COVID-19 peak, our representatives should be fighting tooth and nail to protect the health of our communities.

Volusia County Schools Superintendent Dr. Scott Fritz made it clear that he needs guidance from the elected School Board members. It’s clear from the data that our community needs their leadership.

We hope to see courageous leadership when the School Board meets Tuesday, Aug. 10. Our children and teachers deserve no less.

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