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South Florida school districts decide to make masks optional

Broward first day of school Herald Juste.jpeg
Carl Juste/Miami Herald
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Cypress Bay High School students enter the campus in Weston on Broward County's first day of school. Students were required to wear masks, in defiance of new state rules.

South Florida parents will be able to choose whether their children wear masks at schools, possibly ending a three-month, high-profile feud between school districts and the state. Citing a sharp decline in COVID-19 numbers, the Broward School Board voted 7-1 on Tuesday evening to make masks “strongly encouraged” but not required for all students. The change would take effect Nov. 20, but because that’s the Saturday before a weeklong Thanksgiving break, most students would be able to start going mask-free on Nov. 29.

Broward is the latest of the South Florida school districts to loosen their mask requirements just days after a judge on Friday ruled that Florida’s order banning mask mandates was permissible. “The science shows we’re at a place we can relax the masks,” Board member Debbi Hixon said.

On Monday, masks became optional in Palm Beach County schools. Roxana Rivera, a parent in Wellington, said her two sons will continue to wear masks while in school at Polo Park Middle School. Her oldest son is fully vaccinated, but her 11-year-old son won’t get his first dose until next week.

Read more at our news partner the South Florida Sun Sentinel.