By Kevin Deutsch
The Broward County School Board on Tuesday voted to make masks optional for high school students and staffers amid a decrease in COVID-19 infections.
Face coverings are still mandatory for students, staff, and visitors at all pre-kindergarten, elementary and middle schools. Under the new policy, the masks are “strongly encouraged” at district high schools but not mandated.
No formal opt-out process is required, officials said. The new policy takes effect on Monday.
The school board said it would revisit its mask policy after children under 12 are granted access to vaccines. An FDA advisory panel on Tuesday recommended approval for a COVID-19 vaccine formulated for kids under 12.
High school students already have access to COVID-19 vaccines, which have proven highly effective at preventing infections and deaths among recipients.
Tuesday’s vote made Broward the first school district in South Florida to ease student mask mandates.
Three members of the nine-member school board voted against the change in policy for high schools: Donna Korn, Sarah Leonardi, and Debbi Hixon.
Lori Alhadeff, who represents Tamarac and Coral Springs, and was the lone member to vote against the overall mask mandate back in August, was absent from Tuesday’s meeting and did not cast a vote.
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