South Florida Sun Sentinel | By Scott Travis | November 9, 2021
Miami-Dade Schools this afternoon announced an end to its strict mask mandate, with Broward expected to make a decision this afternoon.
The district still will have a mask requirement, but parents can sign a form indicating their kids shouldn’t wear the masks, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho announced at a news conference today.
These forms will be available Wednesday, with the new rule completely in effect Friday, Carvalho said.
Even though the Miami-Dade district is relaxing its mask rule, “we will still strongly encourage the use of masks in indoor space,” Carvalho said.
He cited favorable COVID-19 metrics, including a rate of fewer than 100 cases per 100,000 residents for three weeks straight. He said hospitalizations also were low. The availability now of vaccines for young children is also a factor, he said.
South Florida school districts have been in a fight with the state over a Health Department order saying parents had the final say whether their children wore masks. For most of this school year, masks have been mandatory for all K-12 students.
Miami-Dade last week agreed to make masks optional for middle and high school students but required for elementary students.
Masks became optional for all Palm Beach County students starting Monday. The Broward County School Board, which made masks optional for high school students two weeks ago, is expected to address the issue at 3:45 p.m. today.
The biggest concern two weeks ago was a lack of vaccination for children aged 5 to 11. But the FDA gave emergency authorization a few days later.
On Friday, a state judge rejected a challenge by Broward, Miami-Dade and four other school districts regarding the state Health Department’s authority to ban mask mandates and leave quarantine decisions up to parents. The districts are appealing the decision.
“I feel comfortable now based on the science and the option for kids to be vaccinated” to end the district’s mask mandate soon, said Rosalind Osgood, chairwoman for the Broward School Board, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
Right now, Broward and Alachua are the only school districts still enforcing mask mandates. Alachua agreed to end its mask mandate after Dec. 7.