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School Board Votes To Make Masks Optional For All Broward Public School Students

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) - The Broward School Board voted Tuesday to make masks optional for all students in public schools beginning November 20.

The vote followed a recommendation from interim Superintendent Dr. Vickie Cartwright, who noted the continued decline in the COVID infection rate, no increase in the quarantine rate after masks became optional at the high school level, and because the district is offering kid-size dose vaccines at elementary and middle schools starting this week.

"Most of our high schoolers still continued to want to wear the face coverings. For the ones who chose not to, they were allowed not to. However, we did not see a break in the trend that we were experiencing across the entire district," explained Cartwright. "We wanted to make sure that we gave ample opportunity for our students and families who wanted to be able to go out and receive their vaccination, they had the ability to do that. By the time we break for Thanksgiving, we will have covered about 70% of our elementary schools."

"The fact that our positivity rate is down. We're seeing less and less students quarantine. We have vaccines more readily available to the community," said Broward School Board Chair Dr. Rosalind Osgood about the decision.

While masks will be optional, they are strongly encouraged.

"The School Board of Broward County's decision today to make masks optional was based on the decrease in positivity and hospitalization numbers in South Florida. The availability of vaccines for all school-aged children is a very important step in continuing to mitigate the spread of the virus, and I hope parents will seriously consider getting their children vaccinated and recommend that they still wear masks in school," said the Broward Teachers Union in a statement.

With the authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for younger children, on Wednesday the school district, in partnership with the Department of Health, will begin on-site vaccinations for children ages five and older.

Click here to download the schedule for on-site vaccinations at Broward County Public Schools.

Some parents told CBS4 they will take advantage of the on-campus vaccinations.

Select Publix, CVS, and Walmart pharmacies are also administering the pediatric Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses to children. Find pharmacy locations here.

Select Winn-Dixie pharmacies are also offering the Pfizer vaccine doses to the 5-11 set. Click Here for availability.

Before the vote, a handful of parents demonstrated in front of district headquarters calling for the mask mandate to be lifted for all students

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