Officials in Broward and Miami-Dade counties are getting ready to adjust masking rules at schools as students prepare to return to classrooms next week.
The updated guidelines could mean adult staff members and visitors will be required to mask up. Broward County has already confirmed students would be exempt from any masking requirements, citing legislation approved in November’s Special Session pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
That language restricts municipalities from requiring masks for students. Miami-Dade officials, however, have not yet announced the extent of their updated guidelines, outside a statement from outgoing Superintendent Alberto Carvalho.
“We will do the right thing by our children, our workforce, and our community,” Carvalho wrote, noting new rules would be finalized by the end of this week. “All district operations will resume, as scheduled, on Jan. 3, 2022.”
Broward officials, meanwhile, will hold an emergency meeting Friday afternoon to hammer out the district’s new protocols. That meeting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.
Both Broward and Miami-Dade flouted an earlier executive order from DeSantis seeking to ban mask mandates for students. Despite the edict, both counties were among several statewide that instituted a mask mandate for students amid the delta surge earlier this year.
But the Governor and Republican lawmakers responded by putting those restrictions into state law via a Special Session in November. That makes the rules clearer for school officials, and therefore harder to rebuke.
The omicron variant has caused cases to surge throughout South Florida this month. Case positivity rates are rapidly climbing, causing officials to reexamine public safety measures. New Year’s Eve celebrations in Miami-Dade and the Keys have already been revised after officials previously said they’d carry on with those festivities.
Data show the omicron variant is less severe than previous strains, however. And children have consistently been among those with the lowest risk of serious disease caused by COVID-19.