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Miami-Dade School Board expects to hear from state as students return to school with masks

A mask mandate is in effect as students and teachers went back to school Monday.

MIAMI LAKES, Fla. – Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho greeted students Monday morning at Barbara Goleman Senior High in Miami Lakes as they headed off to class.

The school’s marching band and cheerleaders greeted the mayor and superintendent as they arrived for a tour.

“The excitement is infectious. The music, the dancing, it makes me want to go back to school,” Levine Cava said.

Students told Local 10 News that they were also excited to be back on campus.

“I was at home because of COVID for two years and it’s better to be in school, I think,” freshman Angelina La Rosa said.

And a mask mandate is in effect as students and teachers went back to school Monday.

School Board member Steve Gallon touched on the subject Sunday on “This Week in South Florida.”

“I will hover around 90 plus percent of our parents support masks. The communication from our board members after the vote has been extremely positive,” he said.

The same way President Joe Biden offered to use federal money to offset the loss of any state funds the district gets hit with as a result of its mask mandate, the mayor says she is willing to step up with county funds, as well.

Broward County public schools also have a mask mandate.

Students were welcomed back to class last week, and now the district faces sanctions from the state Board of Education if it doesn’t give parents the choice to opt their children out of facial coverings.

The penalty? The loss of state funding equal to “1/12 of the total annual compensation of the school board, as an initial step.”

Broward has until 10 a.m. Tuesday to respond to the state.

So far, no such notice has been handed down from Tallahassee to the district in Miami-Dade, but the superintendent expects that to change in a matter of days.

“We have not received any correspondence from the governor or the commissioner, but I have no doubt that probably we will, considering the messages that were sent to Broward and Alachua counties,” Carvalho said.

The superintendent says with the district’s mask mandate and social distancing protocols, he is hoping to avoid an outbreak like in Hillsborough County in which 10,000 students and staff members had to quarantine.

A total of seven districts across the state -- Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Sarasota, Hillsborough, Alachua and Leon -- now have some form of mask mandates at school in defiance of the governor’s executive order.

READ BELOW: Miami-Dade County Public Schools and United Teachers of Dade letter of understanding regarding the 2021-2022 Reopening Plan Guiding Practices and Protocols.

About the Authors:

Madeleine Wright is a general assignment reporter for Local 10 News. She joined the team in March 2017.

Amanda Batchelor is the managing editor for Local10.com.