Today marks the first in-person classes for Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Despite Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s threat to withhold funding from districts that enforce mask mandates, MDCPS will require face coverings in most cases at virtually all facilities.
On Friday, the Florida Board of Education gave the Broward and Alachua county school districts 48 hours to reverse mask requirements or lose funding. DeSantis says that the decision to have students wear masks should be left up to the parents, not to district mandates.
“They had allowed the parents to make the decision and have the ability to opt-out and that’s how school started,” said DeSantis. “They reneged on that and basically took the decision out of the parents’ hands.”
Broward nevertheless refused to remove the ban. The interim superintendent, Vickie L. Cartwright, says that the decision to keep the mandate is worth the risk. She cites the surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, specifically amongst children.
“We’re concerned about the number of cases here in Broward. As of this morning were only have five—five ICU pediatric beds available,” she said. “That’s it.”
At least 4,700 Florida students and staff have tested positive for the Coronavirus in the 15 largest school districts that are already in session. At least 14,200 others are in quarantine or isolation due to the virus.
Last Wednesday, the Miami-Dade County school board voted 7-1 in favor of a mask mandate.
In anticipation of the return to in-person classes, Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho addressed Covid safety protocols for the first day.
“We are doing this under interesting conditions, with safety protocols in place, including wearing masks inside all of the buildings,” said Carvahlo.
MDCPS is Florida’s largest school district, welcoming back over 300,000 students today. Its mask mandate requires everyone entering the facilities to wear facial coverings.