MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – All adults will be required to wear face masks inside any Miami-Dade County Public School facility, while students are highly encouraged to wear masks as they return to classes next Monday, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said Thursday.
Those working on school buses will also be required to wear masks.
The superintendent said students will not be forced to wear masks due to Florida law, but said the school board is consulting with its legal team to explore all options they have challenging the state’s ban on mask mandates for students.
The adult mask mandate, however, applies to not only school employees, but also for parents or any visitors entering school facilities.
“It’s embarrassing how Governor DeSantis has made the district vulnerable and susceptible to the rapid spread of this disease among children,” United Teachers of Dade President Karla Hernandez-Mats said in a statement. “The School Board and the Superintendent have their hands tied because of the negligent law passed during the special session last month. Now is the time for the Governor to act responsibly, lead this community, and provide a safe learning environment for our children. Parents and teachers alike understand that masks reduce children’s risk of significant disease and this is the best way to ensure their safety and well-being. Let’s be better citizens by following safety guidelines and getting vaccinated.”
WATCH: Full press conference with M-DCPS Superintendent Alberto Carvalho
Experts with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continue to recommend universal masking in schools — regardless of vaccination status.
Last month, the superintendent had announced that face masks would be optional for students, so long as parents submitted an opt-out form.
The change was made as children ages 5 and up are now eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and the school district was operating vaccination sites at certain schools.
At the time, South Florida was also seeing a reduction in covid cases, but we are now in the midst of a surge, credited largely to the spread of the omicron variant.
While studies show people have been experiencing less severe symptoms with the omicron variant than the delta variant, Carvalho said it is still concerning that hospitalization rates are up in South Florida and across the U.S., including in the pediatric units.
Carvalho said schools will follow social distancing protocols and people attending school sporting events will be required to wear masks.
He said the district will follow the CDC’s quarantine recommendation for those who are experiencing symptoms of the virus. That means students and staff members will be subjected to no more than a five-day quarantine period if they are experiencing symptoms.
Carvalho said they may return to campus if they have gone 24 hours without a fever without taking a fever-reducing medication.
According to the superintendent, schools will continue health screenings and sanitation measures, and parents are asked to complete their child’s daily health screening prior to returning to school Monday.
To access that questionnaire, visit Backtoschool.dadeschools.net. The questionnaire is available in English, Spanish and Haitian Creole.