South Florida Sun Sentinel | By Scott Travis | July 20, 2021
Superintendent Robert Runcie is recommending that masks be optional for Broward schools this fall, but he warned that could change as COVID-19 cases continue to surge.
Masks will still be “strongly recommended” when students return Aug. 18, he said.
The School Board will discuss his recommendation at a board workshop July 27.
“Opening our schools is a fluid environment and is constantly changing,” Runcie said Tuesday. “As we see positivity rates continue to fluctuate, our recommendations could change.”
Broward was the last district in South Florida to announce its decision on masks. Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties both said in May that masks will be optional.
Gov. Ron DeSantis also has urged districts to make masks optional, and he has said he wants the Legislature or State Board of Education to prohibit public schools from mandating them.
Most districts in the state have already stopped requiring masks, announced they would or never made them mandatory in the first place.
Previously, districts cited the wide availability of vaccinations and declining COVID-19 numbers as reasons for the changes. While vaccines are still easily accessible, Florida is now experiencing a surge in COVID cases.
As of July 14, the state leads the country with 21.4% of all new cases. The state is home to 6.5% of the U.S. population.
“We all know the pandemic is not over,” Runcie said. “Conditions continue to be carefully monitored and adjustments will be made as needed. We continue to communicate with and receive guidance from our local public health officials.”
He said classrooms, buses and cafeterias will likely run at full capacity this fall. Enhanced cleaning will still be in effect, he said.