What will make Miami-Dade Schools consider relaxing its mask mandate? There are metrics

Miami Herald | By Michelle Marchante and David Goodhue | October 28, 2021

Now that Broward’s School Board has voted to make masks optional for high school students beginning Monday, you might be wondering when Miami-Dade’s public school district will start to loosen its mandatory mask mandate.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho has said that a decision could be made soon, possibly by early November. But, it all depends on whether a list of key metrics are met.

Here’s a look at the metrics the district and its medical task force are relying on. All of them need to be met for the district to consider relaxing the mask mandate.


The district must see:

▪ Two consecutive weeks of a seven-day average of COVID-19 cases below 100 per 100,000 people in Miami-Dade County

Miami-Dade County has had a seven-day average of 77 new cases per 100,000 people recorded the week of Oct. 19 to Oct. 25, according to Tuesday’s Community Profile Report for the county, prepared by the White House COVID-19 team. This is the most up-to-date report, as of Thursday morning.

From Oct. 12 to Oct. 18, the county had a seven-day average of 101 cases per 100,000 people, based on the report published Oct. 19.

▪ New case positivity rates decline for two consecutive weeks in Miami-Dade County

The county’s percent positivity rate has been steadily decreasing. The percent positivity rate is at 2%, according to Wednesday’s Miami-Dade County dashboard. In the Oct. 20 report, the dashboard reported a percent positivity rate of 3.85%.

The week prior, on Oct. 13, the county reported a 4.38% percent positivity rate.

▪ Daily student cases decline for two consecutive weeks. Carvalho said last week the district had begun to see this trend.

Miami-Dade’s public school district has recorded student COVID cases ranging from 13 to 76 this month, according to the district’s COVID dashboard as of 11 a.m. Thursday.

On Oct. 27, the dashboard recorded 15 cases. On Oct. 26, it recorded 13 cases, and on Oct. 25 it recorded 35 student cases and 1 employee case.

MDCPS dashboard Oct. 28.PNG
Miami-Dade’s public school district has recorded student cases ranging from 13 to 76 this month, according to the district’s COVID dashboard as of 11 a.m. Thursday.  SCREENSHOT

The highest number of student cases recorded this month was on Oct. 4 with 76 cases. The highest number of employee cases reported this month was on Oct. 8 with 10 cases.

Employee cases are added to the dashboard, which can update several times a day, if they are self-reported or confirmed by the Florida Department of Health. Student cases, including those that are self-reported, are added as they are confirmed by the Florida Department of Health.


The district must see:

▪ At least 80% of eligible school-age children between the ages of 12 and 18 must have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and at least 60% are fully vaccinated. Carvalho said last week this threshold has been met.

Vaccination data by certain age groups can be found on the CDC’s website, in Florida’s weekly report and in Miami-Dade County’s COVID-19 dashboard. However, none of the reports have a 12-18 age group breakdown. Florida’s report also doesn’t break down vaccination data by county.

The Community Profile Report for Miami-Dade, prepared by the White House COVID-19 team, does have a 12-17 vaccination breakdown. According to the Oct. 26 report, about 65% of people ages 12-17 were fully vaccinated in the county.

Miami-Dade’s COVID dashboard also shows vaccination data for kids 12-17, but pegs the rate slightly lower at 59.8%, as of the Oct. 27 dashboard.

The Community Profile Report notes that data may sometimes differ from state and county websites due to differences in how data is reported or how metrics are measured.

There is no vaccine available yet for kids under 12, but one is expected to be available soon, possibly next month. An FDA panel voted on Tuesday in favor of authorizing Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5 to 11. The FDA would have to approve this before the vaccines could be administered.


The district must see:

▪ New daily COVID-related hospital admissions in Miami-Dade remain below 100 for two consecutive weeks.

COVID-19 related hospitalizations have been trending downward in Miami-Dade.

Fewer than 40 people have been admitted daily into Miami-Dade hospitals in the past two weeks, based on data reported Oct. 13 to Oct. 26, according to Miami-Dade’s COVID dashboard.

There were 231 COVID patients hospitalized in Miami-Dade, as of Oct. 26, according to the dashboard.

▪ Fewer than 15% of Miami-Dade hospital beds be occupied by COVID patients. Carvalho last week said this criteria was being met.


The district must see:

▪ New student quarantines due to COVID-19 exposure in school remain below 1.5% for two consecutive weeks districtwide. This has been happening for more than a month, Carvalho said last week.


Most of the major public charter schools in South Florida, such as Academica, have policies strongly recommending masks for students, but are letting parents decide if their child should wear a mask or not.

Charter Schools USA operates 14 schools in South Florida, the majority of which are recommending facial coverings but leaving the option to parents, said Colleen Reynolds, a spokeswoman for the company. However, the policy is set by the governing board of each school, she said.

“Teachers, staff and visitors must wear masks and teachers may remove their masks while actively teaching,” Edge said.

The governing boards of Aventura City of Excellence School, Don Soffer Aventura High School and Coral Springs Charter School require masks for teachers, staff, visitors and students, “but allow for medical exemptions,” Edge said.

In this Aug. 23, 2021 file photo, Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, center, walks with masked-up students Oliver Angel, left, and Ariah Olawale, right, outside of iPrep Academy on the first day of school. LYNNE SLADKY AP
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