Carvalho wants optional face mask use for students next school year

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Cavalho said on Monday that he is recommending that the indoor use of face masks at schools be optional during the next school year.

During a meeting with a panel of medical experts, Carvalho said face mask use is optional during supervised outdoor activities. He also said the protocols will stay in place for the next two weeks, and the decision about summer school remains pending.

Karla Hernández-Mats, the president of the United Teachers of Dade, said the district must respect the CDC guidelines and allow the required face mask use to continue to provide another layer of protection for teachers.

“Young children, who are also not yet eligible for the vaccine and have a harder time staying socially distant, are much more prone to losing items such as a mask during times of recess, which would then present unnecessary challenges and additional stress to our teachers and staff upon them needing to reenter our buildings and classrooms,” Hernández-Mats said about the outdoor exception.

Meanwhile, in Broward County, a small group of parents and activists stood outside of the building where school board members are meeting to oppose the use of face masks in public schools.

Infectious disease experts say data shows the use of double-layered or surgical face masks prevents the transmission of the coronavirus and helps to save lives.

Despite the science, official requirements are a divisive issue. Maria Magdalena Estupinan stood outside of the school board building in Fort Lauderdale to protest on Tuesday.

“This is the biggest fraud committed against humanity,” Estupinan said about the safety requirements that are related to the coronavirus pandemic.

At every school board meeting, officials ask public speakers to wear a face mask that covers both the nose and mouth and to social distance. The rule also applies to people who have completed the series of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended (May 15) the continual use of face masks and social distancing at schools. This is despite the CDC recommendation (May 16) for fully vaccinated people to resume activities without wearing a mask, except where required.

Watch Miami-Dade meeting

About the Authors:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba. 

Liane Morejon is an Emmy-winning reporter who joined the Local 10 News family in January 2010. Born and raised in Coral Gables, Liane has a unique perspective on covering news in her own backyard.