Miami-Dade schools relax mask mandate for high school and college kids – NBC 6 South Florida
Miami-Dade County Public Schools are relaxing mask mandates for high school and middle school students in the district, citing low rates of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations in the community.
From now on, these students will be able to refuse to wear masks, announced Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. Relaxing the mask policy would give parents an opt-out provision for their children.
The decision was based on the district’s meeting of seven metrics established by its medical expert working group, including the positivity rate in the community and the number of cases in schools.
“It shows that we continue to be a district driven by science, driven by data, not by opinion,” Carvalho said.
The state of Florida mandated parental withdrawal at the start of the school year, but Miami-Dade, Broward County Public Schools and several other school districts defied the order.
“I know that no matter what we say or do there will be controversy,” Carvalho said on Monday. “And that is why, in the midst of so many opinions on a subject and an issue which should be motivated solely by the expertise of medical entities and public health officials, we made the decision, fully endorsed by this advice, to follow the science. “
Parental withdrawal was the original plan to return to school in Miami. But the delta variant quickly spread across Florida over the summer, causing a spike in cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
“We’ve improved dramatically, we’ve listened to our health experts, and that’s why we’re relaxing these protocols,” Carvalho said.
The teachers’ union called the move a step in the right direction, but some teachers are still nervous.
“And to be honest you can’t disagree with the data, it looks like the cases are going down and the cases are going down,” said Andy Kearns, who teaches math at Jose Marti MAST Academy. “However, I will ask my students to continue to wear a mask in my classroom because I am immunocompromised.”
Carvalho believes the reason COVID-19 cases have declined in schools is directly linked to the school board’s decision to challenge the state and make masks mandatory.
“Data inside schools is more favorable than data outside schools, that tells you something,” he said. “It’s a protective environment, so I think we’ve proven something here.”
Even with the ruling, elementary school children are still under a mask warrant, which means the district is still subject to state sanctions.