Miami-Dade County Public Schools is updating its COVID-19 protocols in response to the rise of infections driven by the omicron variant.
Superintendent Alberto Carvalho announced Thursday in a news conference that all adults — including staff members, transportation drivers, visitors and more — who enter Miami-Dade Schools facilities will be required to wear masks.
While the district can't require them to do so, students will be strongly encouraged to wear masks.
"It is very observable to all of us that positivity rates continue to rise in our community," said Carvalho, who cited a 25% positivity rate in Miami-Dade County and rising hospitalizations among children in pediatric units.
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The district will also follow the CDC's updated recommendations of shorter isolation times for those who are infected by the coronavirus.
Additionally, all spectators at school sporting events will be required to wear facial coverings.
The updated protocols will be in effect when Miami-Dade students return to campus on Monday, Jan. 3. As of now, that start date has not been pushed back and a return to remote learning is not expected.
Miami-Dade County relaxed mask mandates for high school and middle school students in the district in November, citing low rates of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations in the community at the time. The easing of the mask policy gave parents an opt-out provision for their children.
The state of Florida mandated the parental opt-out at the start of the school year, but Miami-Dade, Broward County Public Schools and several other school districts defied that order.
"I know that no matter what we say or do, there will be controversy," Carvalho said on Nov. 1. "And that is why, in the middle of so many opinions about a topic and an issue that should be driven solely by the expertise of medical entities and public health officials, we made the decision, fully endorsed by this board, that we follow science."
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