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Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho To Make Decision On Masks After Task Force Meeting

MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho says a decision on whether face masks will be required when classes resume will be made shortly after he meets with a medical task force on Monday.

His decision could be announced that same day. Classes resume on August 23rd which is a week from Monday. Unlike Broward, the decision is solely up to the Superintendent and does not require a School Board vote.

Carvalho told CBS4's Peter D'Oench that he will listen closely to what his health and medical experts say.

"I have obtained my training in biology and medical sciences and can not quite frankly depart from that position," he said. "If we can not trust doctors, scientists and medical experts, what is the alternative? Who shall we turn to."

Carvalho also said he would not be swayed by comments from state officials that they would withhold salaries from School Superintendents and School Board members if they mandated masks for students, teachers, employees and visitors. The Governor's executive order threatened to withhold funds from school districts that require face masks.

Carvalho said, "At no point should a threat against my salary factor in to the best decision I will make for students and teachers in the community. I can not compromise on that. My position is not a political one. My position is one that takes in the health and well being of students and those we ask to teach them starting August 23rd."

Carvalho said it was not clear what the financial implications would be regarding School Districts that mandate masks and whether the sanctions would be limited to the salaries of School Board members and Superintendents.

Carvalho spoke before a Miami-Dade School Board committee meeting about measures to accelerate performance by students during the upcoming school year and as a small but vocal group of parents held signs urging Carvalho to mandate masks.

Denise Frieden said, "I prefer they get the vaccine but it is not ready for them yet so I think the mask is one of the best defenses we have right now."

Frieden is the mother of two young girls, Juno, who is 6 and Delilah, who is 8 and about to enter 4th grade at Sunset Elementary School.

Delilah Frieden said she wanted to wear a mask in school and said, "It's because I don't want to get sick and I have been sick many times and it is not pleasant. I have gotten used to wearing a mask because I have been wearing it for awhile."

Mario Salazar, the parent of a student at Sunset Elementary said, "I think we should have a mask mandate and more that we should have My School online so that the people in the magnet program who have chosen a school and had to win a lottery don't lose their seat. The only virtual option we have right now is to remove a child from school that he is enrolled in and reappear next year but there is very little chance of getting in."

Franzella Guido, another parent, said, "We want vaccines and we want remote learning. We are representing other parents who want face mask mandates. Parents can not take the risk of sending their kids to school and catching the virus and getting sick and ending up in a hospital."

Democratic State Senator Annette Taddeo of Coral Gables held a news conference outside School Board headquarters saying, "I am worried about my own kids. I am worried about other kids and I have heard every single day from so many Moms not only in this county but all across the state and they want us to do the right thing."

She shouted out, "Who puts a price tag on our own kids? Who does that? But that is what we have right now from the Governor. I am a Mom first and foremost and I will stand here as long as it takes to let everybody know that we must protect our kids. We most mask up. Not every kid can get the vaccination."

Miami-Dade School Board member Lucia Baez-Geller told D'Oench she has received hundreds of e-mail messages.

She said, "Parents of elementary-age students are very concerned that their kids can not get the vaccine yet. They are concerned about the students and the rapid spread and the Delta variant and it is just getting out of hand right now. They are overly concerned about the variant and would like to see steps to protect our kids right now."

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