Carvalho: Face masks are now optional at all Miami-Dade public schools

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said on Tuesday that students at Miami-Dade County Public Schools will no longer have to wear face masks if their parents don’t want them to.

The universal indoor face mask protocol will no longer be in place starting Friday and parents can start to submit the opt-out form on Wednesday, Carvalho said during a news conference.

“Vaccinations are now widely available,” Carvalho said, adding the district will be providing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines at 12 sites on Friday and 70 sites next week for anyone who is 5 years old or older.

Minors need vaccine consent forms and a parent or guardian. Carvalho said students and employees who have health conditions and who may require special accommodations during the coronavirus pandemic need to communicate with their school principals.

The announcement comes after a COVID-19 task force meeting to discuss official data. The CDC continues to recommend universal masking in schools — regardless of vaccination status.

Social distancing, efforts to improve air ventilation and circulation, and disinfecting protocols will continue. Carvalho said 63% of eligible children in Miami-Dade County have been fully vaccinated. He said all of the metrics support the decision.

“We have seen a 10-fold reduction from mid-August to where we are today,” Carvalho said about infections, also adding the last three weeks the ratio has been less than 100 coronavirus cases per 100,000 Miami-Dade residents.

“We followed the science; we continue to follow the science.”

Last week, school officials decided to make face masks optional for vaccinated employees at high schools and middle schools. Carvalho said 9,020 parents had submitted forms as of Tuesday and the information on elementary and K-8 schools would be available after Friday.

The school district continues to publish confirmed infections on this dashboard. Carvalho said should conditions deteriorate the school district is ready to reimplement a more strict COVID-19 protocol.

Key takeaways from Carvalho’s news conference

  • Students benefit from in-person learning.
  • Vaccination is the leading public health prevention strategy, but the school district is not going to mandate vaccination
  • The district will continue to monitor community transmission, vaccination coverage, screening testing, and outbreaks to guide decisions on the prevention strategies.

Noon report

Miami-Dade County Public Schools officials review pandemic rules at elementary schools.

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