Florida’s largest school district drops all mask mandates

MIAMI >> Florida’s largest school district is dropping all mask mandates, allowing parents of all grades to decide whether their children should wear face coverings, the superintendent said today.

Miami-Dade County School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho made the announcement after a judge ruled last week that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis was in his power to allow parents to step down from strict terms . But rather than cite the decision, Carvalho said coronavirus cases were declining, adding that protocols could change if cases were to rise again.

“Based on the current health conditions, which have improved significantly, starting tomorrow, parents will be able to access the parent opt-out form at any elementary or preschool in Miami-Dade,” Carvalho said during of a press conference, adding that these children can stop wearing masks at school by Friday.

Earlier this month, Carvalho eased mask requirements for middle and high school students, and said he would also allow elementary school students to withdraw soon if cases continued to decline.

The school board for the state’s second largest district in Broward County was also discussing relaxing mask requirements on Tuesday.

Reported cases of coronavirus fell from an average of 21,700 cases per day in mid-August, when the school year started to an average of 1,500. Hospitalizations also fell from around 17,000 to 1,300 patients.

Carvalho said three out of four schools in the district had no cases of the coronavirus last week, and most of them were elementary schools.

The two major school districts are going against the DeSantis administration by strictly requiring the wearing of masks for all students. The state’s health department has imposed a rule, ordering districts to let parents choose whether children wear masks.

The district-state struggle has resulted in lower school board salaries, withholding of district funding, and attracted the attention of federal education officials.

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