Miami-Dade County Public Schools paused its plans to relax outdoor masking rules for the rest of the school year after backlash from the teachers' union, which claimed that any changes needed to be agreed upon by them first.
On Tuesday, the school district tweeted from its official account that, “Effective immediately, starting tomorrow, students engaging in outdoor activities such as physical education or recess during the school day, will not be required to wear masks.”
The decision came with just 15 school days left in the year, which ends on June 9.
The response from the teachers union was swift. In a statement a few hours after the tweet, United Teachers of Dade (UTD) Karla Hernández-Mats stressed how few days are left in the school year and that “our educators believe it would be more prudent and less disruptive to have our students continue wearing face masks on our school campuses.”
During a school board meeting on Wednesday, UTD Vice President Antonio White went further, saying he felt “blindsided” by the new policy and that the UTD agreement with the school district “clearly states that all employees, students and visitors in worksites, shall be required to wear face coverings” and that “this language is not something that can be unilaterally changed.”
In response, Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said the policy was “based on a lot of commentary from a lot of parents, and in some cases, a lot of students, and even in some cases teachers” and that the district’s task force of public health experts and medical experts unanimously signed off on it – but that they have paused implementation of the policy to discuss the policy with the union.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Carvalho said those conversations were still ongoing and that “we hope to move forward with a recommendation from the task force for the benefit of our students and our teachers.”
Meanwhile, on Thursday afternoon the tweets with the new policy were deleted.