Masks Made Optional in MDCPS

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Daphne Renoux

Gables students can now choose whether or not to wear a mask in school.

Audrey Lezcano, Copy Editor

Nine weeks since school has been fully in person with all students wearing masks indoors, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho made an announcement that masks in school will no longer be mandatory for middle and high school students. Parents now have the option of filling out a mask opt-out form if they would like their child to have the option of not wearing a mask during class.

Prior to this announcement, students were required to wear masks indoors and could only remove them while outside. On Saturday, Oct. 30, however, the superintendent put out a statement discussing how an announcement on COVID-19 protocols being relaxed would be soon to come. This was prompted by the report that there were less than 100 school cases of COVID-19 in a span of two weeks. Sure enough, that announcement came on Nov. 1 and the opt-out forms quickly became available on the Miami Dade County Public Schools website.

“I think that it’s good that we’re trying to start to get things back to normal but, at the same time, they need to be careful on who they let take off their mask because most of the students that don’t have their masks on are probably unvaccinated,” sophomore Tamya Wallace said.

I think the mask mandate is essential to keep the school open and running. Now that it was repealed, I do think cases will go up again. They should’ve waited longer,”

— junior Sofia Rodriguez said.

After a parent or guardian fills out the form, Coral Gables Senior High students now have the option to not wear their masks indoors. These new regulations affect teachers too as now fully vaccinated teachers and staff members are no longer required to wear a mask.

Despite the new COVID-19 protocols, the majority of MDCPS students and teachers have elected to still wear their masks during their classes. This is not to say that no Cavaliers have begun to follow the new guidelines, as a few but not as many students and teachers have also filled out the form and are no longer wearing a mask indoors.

The comment section of the superintendent’s post announcing the new regulations was filled with mixed opinions between those who are for and against the wearing of masks at school. Some parents voiced complaints about the fact that only middle and high school students were being given this option and not elementary school students.

Hashtags such as #unmaskourkids were spread by adults asking for all children to be able to attend school without a mask. Others stated that their children will continue to wear their masks to school regardless.

One question that has arisen with this new protocol is how an environment in which all students and staff feel not only safe but comfortable can be created. With the debate over whether masks should be enforced, making sure all students and staff feel comfortable in the learning environment may pose difficulties with the many mixed reactions.

For the first time since the start of the pandemic, students will be able to see the faces of some of their teachers and peers in class. Gables has gone from fully virtual learning to small groups of students in school following strict COVID-19 regulations, to having the full student body in person with masks to finally removing the mandate. These swift transitions beg the question: what comes next for Cavaliers?