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Many students still mask up after Broward ends mandate at high schools

Masks became optional at Broward County public high schools on Monday, but Local 10 News still spotted many students wearing face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – School started at Stranahan High School at 7:30 Monday morning, and despite the new rule that says mask-wearing is optional, most students walked into the building with their faces covered.

Broward County Public Schools is easing up on its mask requirements after the county said its COVID-19 positivity rate remained at or below three percent for 10 days.

Last week, the school board voted to lift the mask mandate for high schools starting Monday. But elementary and middle schools are still required to cover up.

High school students had mixed opinions on the change.

“COVID is still around. Anybody could get it. No matter if they’re vaccinated or not. So I feel that everybody should still wear a mask,” one Stranahan student said.

“I don’t want to wear a mask,” another student said, “because I can’t breathe.”

Said Stranahan freshman Swaminsky Liberal: “I’m still cautious. I’ll still keep my mask on.”

School board members say the mask mandates and quarantine policies will remain in place for the lower grades until a COVID-19 vaccine is available for children ages 5 through 11.

“I am not comfortable, just like I wasn’t in the beginning with, if people are not vaccinated, having them be unmasked,” School Board Chair Rosalind Osgood said.

Parents have also been split on masks.

“I have a child at school right now at a charter school where he is not wearing a mask. And I have a kid at a school where he is. And I haven’t seen a difference all year,” said Sarah DeMauro of Moms for Liberty.

Because the Broward school board defied Gov. Ron DeSantis’ ban on mask mandates, the state issued fines as punishment equivalent to the salaries of its board members who voted for mask mandates.

The Biden administration sent $421,000 dollars to the school district to offset the fines.