Schools and COVID

There Is No Uniform Mask Policy in Florida Charter Schools, Here's Why

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About 112,000 students attend public charter schools in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, but there is no unifying mask policy among these schools.

Charter schools operate independently from the public school districts, so they are free to set their own standards on a variety of issues. For example, the Aventura City of Excellence K-8 School, known as ACES, has adopted the Miami-Dade County Public Schools policy of requiring every student to wear masks unless they have a medical exemption.

“I feel like a majority of our parents would ultimately decide to put masks on anyway, but it definitely feels, it makes me feel more confident as a a teacher having students with masks on, for sure,” said Beth Greenberg, a teacher at ACES, which is run by the city of Aventura.

The principal told us parents support the mandatory mask policy.

“The vast majority were ecstatic, a lot of emails, thankful, relieved,” ACES principal Anthony Tyrkala said. “With the numbers in the current situation it definitely feels like a no-brainer, that it would be this situation.”

Across town at the Somerset Academies, it’s a different story. Masks are optional.

That appeals to some parents, but not the two mothers we spoke to in Westchester. They wanted to remain anonymous.

“When I heard Miami-Dade Public Schools is going against what the governor said and mandating masks, I was very relieved because I thought the charter schools would follow suit,” one of the moms said. “So I was really shocked to learn that they’re not gonna be mandating masks.”

The Somerset schools are run by Academica, which also operates the Mater academies, SLAM! Academy, the Ben Gamla schools and more.

When these mothers complained, they received an email from Academica which said, in part, “ Issuing a mask mandate and requiring parents to submit medical documentation to opt out defies the guidelines issued by the state of Florida…”

“I would like to make it across the board because there’s an exception if kids do not want to wear the mask,” said one of the mothers.

“Absolutely puts her in more danger,” one of the mothers said about her daughter. “A lot of these kids with the new delta variant, they’re asymptomatic.”

For that reason and more, so far, 10 public school districts in Florida and an assortment of public charter schools have decided on mandatory masking as the best way to keep everyone safe and schools open.

“We’re done with that part and we’re moving forward focusing on education right now,” Tyrkala said.

“Even just day three, having everybody in the class, all together, it’s Been awesome,” Greenberg said.

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