Miami-Dade County Public Schools announced a change in its quarantine policy Wednesday. Starting Monday, Oct. 11, middle school students will be under the same rule currently used for high school students, but despite pressure from the state, the district will not be relaxing its mandatory mask mandate.
Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said Wednesday that data shows the district’s COVID prevention protocols are working, and school administrators tell us they’ve received almost zero pushback from parents.
“Families are feeling safer sending the children to school with their masks,” said Aillette Rodriguez-Diaz, assistant principal at iPrep Academy. “They have told me this, and they’ve expressed sincere appreciation for the mask mandate.”
Carvalho held a news conference in which he displayed a series of graphs showing how the COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates have dropped significantly in Miami-Dade County.
Schools and COVID
“This is a very powerful and positive trend,” Carvalho said.
That data led him to announce that asymptomatic middle schools students would now only have to quarantine five days after direct exposure with an infected person instead of the previous 10-day quarantine standard. That still doesn’t meet the state’s demand that parents should be able to decide whether to keep their COVD-exposed kids home from school. Carvalho said his district would not make unscientific changes to its covid policy when lives are at stake.
“I continue to not be able to define what our community’s threshold for pain should be, so one life lost is one life too many,” said Carvalho.
Carvalho also vented about a missing chunk of money. The federal government had earmarked $2.3 billion to Florida in the American Rescue Plan. Miami-Dade Public Schools was supposed to receive $800 million of that grant, to be used for enhanced mental health services, to fight the “COVID slide” of academic regression, and to upgrade school buildings and their HVAC systems. However, the state hasn’t even applied for the free money.
“The need is here, the academic regression is real, the social and emotional distress demonstrated by our students is very obvious and the moral imperative of upgrading physical facilities in our schools is ongoing so we need that money to be expedited and we believe that we can wait no longer,” Carvalho said. “And we really have not received an answer that in any way, shape or form justifies or explains the delay or the failure of the state to apply for this funding, it is baffling to us, it is baffling to us that Florida is the only state in the union that has not done so.”
The superintendent can ask the state Board of Education about that funding Thursday, when the district will have five minutes to explain to the Board why it has not made masks optional and is not allowing parents to make quarantine decisions.