MIAMI (CBSMiami) — With the start of school just around the corner, school leaders from Miami-Dade and Broward Counties are under pressure to make a final call on whether students will or will not be required to wear masks to curb the spread of coronavirus and the vicious delta variant. However, neither district is ready to make a decision and possibly defy Governor Ron DeSantis, just yet.
“We have been a District and will continue to be a District that is absolutely guided by science and the expert advice of public health and medical experts. We have a task force meeting this coming week to deliberate these issues,” Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said on CNN on Friday.
Carvalho, who heads Florida’s largest school district, said the Miami-Dade School District is still in wait and see mode.
“I think the best prevention, short of vaccination, is the wearing of masks, but that will be an issue that we are discussing with the task force. Look, I think it’s shameful that political forces and threats of defunding public education are squeezing students and potentially their well-being and that of teachers on this issue.”
Miami-Dade County Public Schools start school on August 23. It’s the latest start date in the state which gives them some time to make a final decision. However, Broward County Public Schools has a tighter deadline with classes set to resume on August 18th.
“We’ve seen a major outpouring from parents, some not wanting masks, but more just very afraid and very concerned. They worked the last year and a half to keep their children safe and now to send them into a small classroom environment or on a school bus where someone is not wearing a mask, it’s really traumatic to these parents,” said Dr. Rosalind Osgood, Chair of the Broward School Board on CNN. “What the governor is doing right now is causing an extra level of trauma on our parents and on our community.”
Broward initially announced plans to require masks in classrooms. Then the Board said they wouldn’t after DeSantis issued an Executive Order banning mask mandates in schools, which also threatens to withhold state funding if a school district doesn’t comply.
Now, the school board will discuss the topic again next week.
“We didn’t back track. We have not met again since we voted last week. We will meet on Tuesday to see how we move forward. I personally will continue to speak up and speak out to require masks and make it mandatory for both staff and students,” said Osgood. “I’m not willing to take a risk with somebody’s life when we have a deadly pandemic.”
On Friday afternoon, the Archdiocese of Miami released its COVID protocols and mask policies for the upcoming school year.
Masks will be required indoors for unvaccinated students ages 2 and older. Masks are optional for fully vaccinated students with documentation and social distancing of 3 feet will be maintained.
“Vaccinations, masks, social distancing etc., of course are not 100 percent effective but not to attempt to mitigate risks to parishioners and school families would be a failure and of pastoral oversight on my part,” said Archbishop Thomas Wenski.
The Archdiocese says research from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) was used to update the policy.
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