The Archdiocese of Miami’s mask policy for its 61 schools is currently more strict than the public school districts. To opt out of wearing a face covering, Catholic school students at all grades must be fully vaccinated.
Earlier this week, both Miami-Dade County Public Schools and Broward County Public Schools made masks optional for all students, regardless of vaccination status. There’s a group of Catholic school parents who want to see their kids’ schools follow suit.
“I’m one of a great big group of parents, I would say in the thousands that share the same concern,” said Tammy Garcia, whose daughter attends a Catholic high school. “The Archdiocese always tells us, in other instances, hey, we follow whatever Miami-Dade is doing, that’s what they’ve always said, but now we don’t see that.”
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Garcia says her group chat is full of parents who are frustrated, they say, with the Archdiocese because of multiple anecdotes which they say illustrate hypocrisy.
“There are schools that are having adult events for fundraising purposes where no one is wearing a mask, there’s no social distancing at all, yet the homecoming dances for the kids are being canceled, activities for the kids are being canceled,” Garcia said.
The Archdiocese has its own panel of medical experts it had relied on for guidance in the pandemic.
“While the ADOM mask policy is being renewed on a daily basis, it is paramount that we keep our children safe. The ADOM makes such decisions independent of other school systems,” the communications director said in a statement.
“Encouraging our community in the schools to get vaccinated as a way maybe to not have to wear a mask is a positive step,” said Dr. Daphna Yasova Barbeau, a pediatrician.
She withdrew her daughter from a Broward public school because she feared the district would relax mask mandates, which it ultimately did.
“Right now, one in four cases of COVID in the US affects a child, and many children are still battling covid symptoms, so I think it’s just too soon to make changes on a masking mandate,” Dr. Barbeau said.
She said the public school districts should have waited until more kids are vaccinated before they made the changes to mask mandates. The Archdiocese policy of tying masks to vaccination status, Dr. Barbeau said, makes more sense from a public health standpoint and the chat group of hundreds of doctors that she’s in, she points out, supports the position that all kids should wear masks in classrooms, period.