Masks shouldn’t be mandatory in Florida schools this fall, state says

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The reopening of Florida schools during the COVID-19 pandemic has been deemed a success by many superintendents statewide and by Florida’s education commissioner.

This year, face masks have been mandatory, but that won’t necessarily be the case in the fall.

Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran has notified school districts of a policy change. In a letter to Florida school systems, the commissioner wrote that “broad sweeping mandatory face covering policies serve no remaining good at this point in our schools.”

“We ask that districts, which currently are implementing a mandated face covering policy, revise their policy to be voluntary for the 2021-22 school year,” Corcoran’s letter said.

Corcoran says his team reviewed health data in school districts and found face-covering policies don’t impact the spread of the virus, though no scientific details were in that letter.

The letter also says: “Mandatory face covering policies inhibit peer-to-peer learning in our classrooms and they may also unintentionally create a barrier for students and families who would otherwise choose in person instruction if such a policy were not in place.”

While it’s not a mandate, it is guidance the school districts must consider.

Outside of the Broward school board headquarters Thursday, the teachers union president joined the superintendent and board members to announce a new contract to give educators raises. The topic shifted to Corcoran’s letter.

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