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For the second time this summer, about 20 people used the public comment period during Wednesday’s Miami-Dade County School Board meeting to lambaste the district for teaching critical race theory and requiring students and teachers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 when they return to class next month and to wear a mask while on campus.
And, for the second time, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho told the speakers that none of this is happening nor is in the works.
The school district on May 18 announced that masks would be optional for students, teachers and other staff when schools reopen for the fall semester.
“I’ve been asked about this a number of times.,” Carvalho said after more than a dozen speakers spoke out against critical race theory, mask mandates and required vaccinations.
“I’ve said it in English, in Spanish, In Haitian, Creole. I’ve said it in Portuguese. So, I think I’ve said it clearly and it’s well-understood,” he said about masks and other facial coverings.
Regarding mandatory vaccines, Carvalho told the audience: “We said it two months ago. A month ago, last week, and I’m saying it again. That, number-one, there is no policy that this board is advancing or supporting, that would require the vaccination of any student. Period.”
Not only is the district and School Board not considering mandatine vaccinations, it’s against Florida law to do “for the purpose of entrance or access to an educational institution,” Caralho said. “This, again, is well known.”
Addressing critical race theory, a controversial framework that aims to contextualize how racism historically impacts current public policy and society, Carvalho said that too is not an issue in Miami-Dade, nor Florida.
“No, critical race theory is not part of this state’s adopted curriculum standards. It is not part of Miami-Dade Public School’s curriculum or curriculum materials,” he said. “We did not engage in professional development specific to critical race theory, nor is it taught in our classes. That is a fact.”
Carvalho’s statements were not enough to convince the people who spoke out against the topics Wednesday. Tamar Berkowitz of Surfside, one of the speakers, said afterwards that she has seen a document signed by at least 11 Dade teachers saying they will teach critical race theory no matter what the district says.
And, she said regarding mask mandates and mandatory vaccines, “ They never made a formal decision or announcement.”