Lila Hartley advocates for other children, urging her Florida school district to implement masks in schools. Lila Hartley wrote a letter to the Duval County school board and superintendent last week, saying that she is vaccinated, but she is concerned about her 10-year-old brother, who is ineligible at her age.
“Right now, especially since the Delta variant is increasing, hospitalizing and killing so many children, I really think masks should be required,” she wrote Lila. In her letter, Lila said that she is “so worried” that her brother may “go to school one day and die in the hospital the next day.”
“I don’t know what I would do if he died, especially if it was caused by a place that means so much to him, the school,” the seventh-grader wrote.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order last week prohibiting school districts in the state from requiring students to wear masks to school. He also said that the State Board of Education could withhold the salary of the district superintendent or school board members who violate the law.
Lila Hartley Age
Lila Hartley is 12 years old.
Lila Hartley Writes letter urging the school board to make masks mandatory
A 12-year-old Florida girl urged her school district to implement a mask mandate in schools in a letter she wrote to the Duval County school board and superintendent last week. Lila Hartney of Jacksonville, Florida, decided to take matters into her own hands after learning that her district schools would not require masks for the upcoming school year.
“I would like to encourage the requirement for masks at school in Duval County. At this time, especially as the Delta variant is emerging, hospitalizing and killing so many children. I truly believe that masks should be required,” he wrote in the letter, which was shared with ‘Good Morning America’. When GMA approached Hartley to ask why she had written the letter, she explained: “This pandemic still exists. People keep dying and getting sick. Masks save lives and I don’t want my brother to die.” Some other people who have made headlines recently regarding their stance for or against masks include Bethany Mandel, Linda Sexton, Christina Reszetar, and Kelci Cashman.
Doctors have reported an increase in COVID-19 cases in children and say that children are getting more ill with this variant. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, between July 29 and August 5, 93,824 cases of COVID-19 were reported in children, with children accounting for 15% of weekly reported cases in the US. Many children cannot. get vaccinated, and experts say the best way to prevent the spread is for the adults around them to get the vaccine and for the continued wearing of masks.
After Lila’s letter went viral, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services invited her to a meeting on Monday. Commissioner Nikki Fried said her nephews and stepchildren have similar concerns and that she is proud of Lila for speaking on behalf of so many children across the state.
Lila told Fried that she has friends who have contracted COVID-19. “One of my friends came so close to getting vaccinated and then he got sick,” she said. She wants children to know that masks help everyone, vaccinated or unvaccinated.
Fried, a Democrat and candidate for governor in 2022, said school districts should not focus on the political and financial ramifications when deciding whether or not to follow DeSantis’s order. “We will stand behind you because you are doing the right thing for our children,” she said.
She said she believes Desantis’s order is unconstitutional. “This stunt is unacceptable, this authoritarian ‘It’s your way or the highway,’ and at the expense of our children,” Fried said. “You are not hurting the school board members by taking their funds. You are hurting Lila and her friends.”
“I need our school boards to understand that they are making the decision to follow the governor and play the political and potential ramifications or do what is best for the health and safety of our children,” Fried said. Lila said that she received a response to her letter from a member of the Duval County School Board. “They said they are taking this seriously and listening to the science,” she said.
Duval County Public Schools released a “Student Mask / Face Cover Exclusion Form” on Friday. The school said face covering is highly recommended, but “parents who wish their child not to wear a face cover can do so.” The decision was made after the school board held a public meeting last Tuesday, where for two hours, dozens of people voiced their opinions about the masks, reports WJAX, an affiliate of CBS Jacksonville.
Before the meeting, a demonstration was held in front of the school system headquarters. “If they go to the school system with unmasked children, they are sending them into a toxic swamp of COVID,” said Dr. Jeff Goldhagen, former director of the Duval County Health Department.
“We need to cower. We shouldn’t even be starting school right now. Last year, we were backing up when we didn’t even see cases close to this,” said Jaimie Shires, a mother of two. Still, some advocated no masks in schools. “The masks are hurting our children. They are causing the inability to socialize with each other,” said Melissa Bernhart.
Another county has gone completely against the DeSantis executive order. In an 8-to-1 vote, the Broward County School Board decided it would require masks and approved the filing of legal action to challenge Florida’s ban, CBS Miami reported. School board president Rosalind Osgood said she did not want to put the children’s lives at risk.