Miami-Dade County Public Schools on Thursday announced some of its expected COVID-19 rules for the 2021-2022 school year. One of the big changes: Entire classrooms won’t have to quarantine if a student, teacher or staff member tests positive for COVID-19.
Instead, the district said its quarantine process will “focus on individuals directly impacted by a potential exposure.” Additional details about the new quarantine process weren’t immediately available.
Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said the day before that under the more relaxed quarantine procedure, “only those within the immediate vicinity” of the student who fell ill, for example, would have to quarantine.
Students and staff will also be required to wear masks inside Miami-Dade public school buses. Wearing masks outside of the bus is encouraged but will be optional and is a “parental responsibility,” the district said in a news release.
As for masks inside the classroom, a decision is expected to be made in the coming days, the district said.
Some of the other COVID protocols Miami-Dade Schools put in place last year will be used again, including social distancing in the cafeteria or the use of “alternate dining options” when possible, which usually means kids will eat in the classroom or in an outdoor patio, for example. There will also be isolation rooms, which is where students who begin to exhibit potential COVID symptoms are sent to be checked by a nurse, who will then call their parents to pick them up, if needed.
Miami-Dade Schools task force to review mask policy
The announcement comes just days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidelines on Tuesday to say that everyone, including people who are fully vaccinated, should wear a mask inside K-12 schools. The American Academy of Pediatrics made a similar recommendation earlier this month. The recommendations go against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis stance that kids should not have to wear masks in school.
Carvalho announced in May that masks would be optional for the 2021-2022 school year. On Tuesday, he said in a statement that the district’s mask policy would be reviewed by the district’s task force of medical and public health experts following the updated guidance. The district said the task force will be reviewing the mask situation due to a variety of other factors as well, including concerns over the more contagious delta variant and the lack of a vaccine for kids under 12.
Florida also is again seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases — with the CDC on Wednesday reporting that the state recorded 16,038 new cases on the previous day, the most seen since January. South Florida hospitals are again seeing an uptick in COVID patients, this time said to be younger and unvaccinated. And Miami-Dade County’s percent positivity has risen past 10%.
Over the last few weeks we’ve seen an alarming rise in COVID cases across our community.
Our positivity is now over 10% & hospitalizations are continuing to increase – with growing numbers of otherwise perfectly healthy, almost all unvaccinated people ending up in the hospital.
— Daniella Levine Cava (@MayorDaniella) July 29, 2021
The reevaluation of Miami-Dade Schools’ mask policy comes just weeks before classes begin on Aug. 23.
In neighboring Broward County, the School Board on Wednesday voted to make masks mandatory in public schools, at least for the beginning of the new school year, which starts on Aug. 18. It’s the first school district in South Florida to do so. Masks are expected to be optional in Palm Beach and Monroe County public schools.