After a long meeting with his Public Health and Medical Expert Task Force, Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho announced that he is “accepting” the task force’s recommendations, including the recommendation that masks be required in school.
However, Carvalho said he believes it is important for the nine elected school board members "to have a voice on this matter.”
“I do believe it is important for us to reach at a conclusion that affirms the recommendations of this task force,” Carvalho said.
The task force, which is made up of highly recognized medical and public health experts, were tasked with coming up with COVID-19 protocol recommendations for the district.
In the past, Carvalho has made it very clear that he will make these decisions guided by this group of experts and the science and not by political pressure.
”I am accepting 100% of their recommendations," Carvalho said at the end of the task force meeting. "That includes the protocols associated with masking on buses, appropriate social distancing, increased sanitization, as well as mandatory masking with accommodations as medically prescribed for students.”
The task force met Monday afternoon and came to a strong consensus that masks should be required at school for the start of the 2021-2022 school year. It also discussed bus protocols, contact tracing and quarantine protocols.
“It would be a travesty not to require masking in schools in the way that is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics,” said infectious disease expert Dr. Aileen Marty.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has sought to block districts from mandating masks for children, arguing that parents should be the ones to decide. His office said they could move to withhold funding for districts that don't comply.
However, it appears the decision is not exactly final. The superintendent said the board wants to weigh in at its meeting on Wednesday.
“The board does have an opportunity, a desire a wish to discuss this matter,” said Carvalho. “A number of the board members participated in [Monday’s] discussion and that’s all valuable information. I take a great deal of pride in the position that this board has maintained throughout in terms of protective measures when it comes to COVID-19 and I look forward once again to the board’s confirmation and affirmation of the recommendations that have been preferred by the task force.”
United Teachers of Dade President Karla Hernandez-Mats released a statement saying the organization stands behind mask mandates, reading in part:
"The group underscored that there is no gray area on this matter and that without a doubt, masks are not only highly effective, but any notion that they pose additional risk or negatively impact the health of any adult or child is categorically false. We call upon our school board members to show the same amount of courage and leadership when casting their vote on Wednesday. Parents and teachers alike understand that masks reduce children’s risk of significant disease, including hospitalizations, particularly for those who do not have access to the vaccine yet.”