The Miami-Dade college board approves the masks mandate and defies the state

MIAMI The Miami-Dade County School Board has voted to approve a face mask mandate that will go into effect next week at the start of the new school year.

The board voted 7-1 in a meeting on Wednesday, creating a policy similar to Broward County’s to protect students and faculty from COVID-19.

The policy provides for a medical exemption, but contradicts Governor Ron DeSantis’ order against the mask requirement. It is the position of DeSantis and the state education committee that parents should have a choice about whether their children wear masks in school.

Lubby Navarro was the only member of the Miami-Dade School Committee to vote against the mandate. Board member Christi Fraga was not present.

Public school in Florida’s largest school district begins on Monday.

Alberto Carvalho, superintendent of Miami-Dade County’s public schools, recommended a mask mandate despite state opposition.

“The right thing, in my opinion, includes a mandatory mask policy,” said Carvalho. “This is not a political statement. This is a protective tool. “

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Broward politics, which started school on Wednesday, has put that county in the crosshairs of the state education department, as the Miami-Dade decision likely will.

The state education department voted Tuesday to sanction Broward schools for defying the governor’s orders that masks should be optional.

It is a fate that Broward superintendent and vice chairman of the school committee, Dr. Steve Gallon, who put the article to the vote, agreed to face this fate.

“My daughter is an elementary grade student at Miami Dade County Public School. She can complain about wearing a mask. As a parent, I get it, ”said Gallon. “But as a policy maker, I have to make a decision that is in the best interests of all of our children in the district.

“If we refuse to accept the opinion, the opinion of doctors and health authorities, what is the alternative?”

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Broward said it had a smooth first day of school under its mandate, with only one student and teacher across the county refusing to wear a mask.

Miami-Dade on Wednesday heard public comments from community members on both sides of the problem.

Carvalho criticized a meeting Tuesday at which superintendents from Broward and Alachua counties were berated by the state education committee for imposing their mask mandate guidelines in contravention of DeSantis orders.

Both districts must expect state sanctions.

“I am deeply hurt, not threatened, or fearful, mainly due to witnessing and listening to a meeting that happened yesterday where I believe two of my colleagues were ostracized, criticized and threatened for doing nothing more and nothing less than that. “They think it’s right,” Carvalho said of Tuesday’s meeting where the State Committee targeted Broward and Alachua.

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Carvalho said the reality of the COVID-19 surge in South Florida calls for stronger protection policies from education leaders.

The Miami-Dade superintendent tells the State Department of Education that he supports the mask mandate

“I spoke to a teacher who happens to be the daughter of another teacher and begs me to do the right thing because her mother is to be intubated in Jackson South,” he said. “Yesterday I spoke to a mother of a deceased child.”

“If at any point in my career the consistency threatens my own position, that’s fine,” he added.

State Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said he intended to punish Broward County’s public schools for failing to obey the governor’s orders.

Last week Corcoran threatened to withhold the salaries of school principals and school board members.

Corcoran said Wednesday morning it was about the rule of law and not a debate about masks themselves.

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“You have 67 counties. You have to have a consistent system, ”Corcoran said. “We try to give these children the best possible education and we know how to do it. If you empower the parents, when you have that choice. “

Corcoran wouldn’t specifically talk about possible penalties for Broward County’s public schools, saying it might come out later Wednesday or Thursday.

Time will tell if Miami-Dade is in a similar situation.

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