wplg logo

Local officials, school districts fight for mask mandates in South Florida

There are now five different lawsuits making their way through the courts after one thing — making sure mask mandates in schools stay in place.
There are now five different lawsuits making their way through the courts after one thing — making sure mask mandates in schools stay in place.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – There are now five different lawsuits making their way through the courts after one thing — making sure mask mandates in schools stay in place.

“it irks me, it irritates me, it bothers me,” Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. “It hurts me that children are becoming the political pawns in this despicable political chess game.”

Carvalho calls the mask debate a political crisis of dissension and misinformation.

So far, school districts that have instituted mask mandates have scored twice.

On Wednesday, a Florida judge lifted a stay, meaning school districts like Broward and Miami-dade can continue to require masks in the classroom.

“Second only to the vaccine, it is a protective measure,” says Carvalho. “It is not a political ploy.”

Miami-Dade Schools is one of several entities now legally fighting to keep mask mandates in schools.

“My clients would like to go to school in a safe environment,” says attorney Matt Dietz. Dietz represents 15 children with disabilities.

His lawsuit, which is now in federal court, alleges not having mask mandates in schools violates these children’s rights under the American Disabilities Act.

“The governor seriously overstepped his authority in trying to force local schools how to do the safe thing for their kids,” he says.

And it’s not just a legal fight — critics of the governor say he’s with holding needed funding from schools.

Not a single one of the 67 school districts in Florida have been able to access the largest level of federal funds. In Miami-Dade, that’s $1.2 billion.

“The need exists right now,” says Carvalho. “There is no time to wait.”


About the Author:

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.