School mask mandates could change in Broward and Miami-Dade this week

Miami-Dade and Broward counties say they will revisit their face mask requirements in classrooms now that infections are dropping in the community.

MIAMI – The steady decline in COVID-19 infections could trigger changes in school mask mandate policies in South Florida.

The public school districts in Miami-Dade and Broward counties will be revisiting their rules on face coverings. In Broward, that could happen in the next 24 hours.

A Broward County Public Schools spokesperson said that at Tuesday’s school board meeting “it is expected that there will be an item added to the agenda regarding district’s COVID-19 protocols including the use of face coverings.”

Earlier this month, the district said it would revisit the mask mandate when the COVID positivity rate reached 3% or lower for 10 consecutive days, which Broward has reached.

In Miami-Dade, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said at a meeting last week that this Friday may be a benchmark day if several metrics they have been monitoring — including hospital admissions, community transmission and daily student cases — continue in the right direction.

Carvalho described what a possible adjustment on a face-covering policy could look like, saying “A mandatory mask policy but with an unrestricted, unrestricted, parent opt-out provision.”

It’s unclear if the school districts will change their mask policies for all grade levels or just in classrooms with students 12 and older. Children 11 and younger are still not eligible for COVID-19 vaccines.

However, an FDA advisory committee meeting to discuss Pfizer’s request to amend its emergency use authorization to include children ages 5 to 11 is scheduled for Tuesday.

The mask requirements were put in place on the recommendation of infectious disease experts during a time when the contagious delta variant was coursing through the community and pediatric COVID cases were on the rise.

But since the peak of the summer surge in August, the state has now gone eight consecutive weeks with a decline in new infections.

In other mask mandate news, the U.S. Department of Education on Monday sent a letter to Florida’s Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran saying the state cannot withhold funds from Broward and Alachua counties to equal the amount those counties are receiving in compensation from the federal government over penalties levied for mask mandates.

See the letter below:

About the Author:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."