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Miami-Dade County Schools Mandate Masks, Defying Florida's Governor

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

Florida's largest school district voted in favor of a mask mandate ahead of the 334,000 students returning to their classrooms on Monday. This comes in stark opposition to Governor Ron DeSantis' executive order banning schools from mandating masks. Miami-Dade County Superintendent Alberto Carvalho told the State Board of Education that he supports the recommendations of medical experts.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ALBERTO CARVALHO: For the consequences associated with doing the right thing, whatever that right thing is, I will wear proudly as a badge of honor.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Governor DeSantis argues that parents should choose whether children wear masks in school, and the Florida State Board of Education agreed with him. Counties within the state are defying the governor. Broward County, for example, is maintaining a mask mandate. The Hillsborough County School Board, which is Tampa, voted to require students to wear masks for 30 days. And Alachua County Public Schools implemented a two-week mask mandate for students.

MARTINEZ: The Miami-Dade school board voted 7-1 in their meeting on Wednesday. Only one board member voted against the mandate. Another board member was not present. Prior to the vote, Miami-Dade heard public comment from community members on both sides of the issue.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: While masks may be annoying to wear, they're the best thing other than the vaccines to help us against COVID. And I think that...

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: In my personal opinion, if we continue with this practice, we will see a generation of young adults seriously lacking empathy, social-emotional skills and human connection.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: A deeply troubling concern is that masking has become a political tool. It should never be political.

MARTINEZ: The Miami-Dade mask policy does allow for medical exemptions.

INSKEEP: The State Board of Education held a meeting to consider sanctions against at least two school districts, although at the same time, the Biden administration is offering school districts federal stimulus money to offset any financial penalties they may suffer.

(SOUNDBITE OF EL MICHELS AFFAIR'S "PROTECT YA NECK") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.