Florida college student face mask issue gaining national attention – CBS Miami

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MIRAMAR (CBSMIAMI) —- As the Broward school system strongly recommends that students wear face masks when school returns next month, the issue is gaining national attention in part because of an exchange Thursday involving the governor of Florida and White House press secretary.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said: “If I were a parent in Florida it would be of great concern to me because children under 12 have not been vaccinated and are not. eligible. She said by not wearing masks.

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“This puts children at risk and does not comply with health guidelines. We know masks aren’t the most comfortable thing. I would say most kids adapt to it. She said: “We would be concerned about any measures that do not meet public health guidelines” and spread the risk.

Psaki, who is also a parent, made the remarks in response to comments from Governor Ron DeSantis who said, “At the end of the day, you have to be careful with children first.

We must ensure education. Is it really comfortable and is it really healthy for them to be muzzled and have their breathing blocked all day at school? I don’t think this is the case. I have a 3 year old son and you like Fauci say he should be muzzled and put a mask on a 3 year old. It is totally unacceptable. “

Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said on Tuesday that face marks were highly recommended for students, but said they would not be mandatory. He also said that could change with the recent increase in coronavirus cases.

In a statement posted to CBS4 News, Broward Public Schools said they “strongly recommend that all students and staff wear face coverings … we are monitoring the positivity, hospitality and death rates associated with the pandemic. of COVID-19. These indicators have increased considerably in recent weeks. “

Face masks and other protocols will be the subject of a Broward School Board workshop next Tuesday. Classes resume on Wednesday August 18.

Peter D’Oench of CBS4 spoke to Anna Fusco, president of the Broward Teachers Union, who said the BTU does not yet have a position on whether students and teachers should wear masks when resuming. school and was studying this question and looking for more data. Fusco will attend the workshop on Tuesday.

She said: “We are in a delicate situation here. Lots of people have been vaccinated that we don’t know. Children 12 and under do not have the opportunity to get the vaccine, so this is a big concern for Kindergarten to Grade 7 and support staff. I asked for a lot of data so we can talk about the best course to do with masks.

Fusco said: “We have groups who won’t bring their kids back if they have to wear masks and we have teachers who can’t teach all day with masks.”

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In Miami-Dade, Karla Hernandez Mats, president of United Teachers of Dade, said she favors masks for students when classes resume on August 23.

This week, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that all students over the age of 2 wear face masks when they go to school.

Dr Aileen Marty, an infectious disease expert at Florida International University, told D’Oench on Tuesday that she agreed with the recommendation, adding: “It’s really important that kids mask themselves when they’re in. an enclosed space for eight hours. We are seeing more and more cases of young people and the bulk of the cases right now are those 12 to 39 years old with the highest concentration of people in their 20s. “

It is aggravated by the highly transmissible Delta variant.

“It’s very contagious and people who are infected have higher viral loads. The higher viral loads they lose mean their protection may be exceeded. “

Miami-Dade has more than 356,000 students and more than 18,000 teachers and is the 4th largest school district in the country.

In Miami-Dade, the face mask issue could be discussed at the next school board meeting in August.

Superintendent of Schools Alberto Carvalho said on Monday he realizes there are a lot of concerns, but said that for now, wearing face masks will be optional.

Carvalho said: “Our position is based on the current environmental conditions in Miami-Dade and the scientific information we have that indicates lower positivity rates than months ago and secondly, hospital beds available in our community and equally important the availability of vaccines. “

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“Obviously, we are talking with our federal partners to try to understand when they release vaccines and when they will be made available to children, as that will stabilize conditions in our community and beyond. “
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