Broward County Public Schools Imposes Mask Mandate as Parents Protest

broward mask mandate
Joann Marcus of Fort Lauderdale, left, cheers as she listens to the Broward School Board's emergency meeting, Wednesday, July 28, 2021, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. A small but vocal group spoke vehemently against masks, saying their personal rights were being eroded and their children were suffering socially. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

The School Board of Broward County voted on Wednesday afternoon to impose a face mask mandate at Broward County Public Schools.

The mandate comes just days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated the guidance for fully vaccinated people, saying masks must be worn by teachers, staff and students, regardless of vaccination status.

Rosalind Osgood, the Broward school board chair, said she felt it was her moral duty to support the CDC’s mask mandate. But many Broward parents opposed the idea.

One school district parent said it was insane for the board to require children to wear masks.

“These kids are not affected [by COVID-19]. Please stop the insanity. You have already done damage to these kids by having them wear masks. Masks are a petri-dish that they’re forced to inhale six hours a day. Make masks optional or you stand to lose plenty of enrollment and it won’t end there because trust me, you’ll be voted out,” Vivian Hoge said, with her two masked daughters by her side.

Those sentiments were shared by scores of Broward parents, who protested the mandate at the school district’s headquarters. Some protesters even took to burning face masks outside the building.

Earlier this week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis held a private meeting with doctors to oppose mask mandates in public schools. DeSantis said he fears that the federal government might try to force mask mandates in schools, saying children would suffer.

During the meeting, Broward Teachers Union President Anna Fusco also chimed, suggesting that the wearing of masks should be optional for students and staff.

“Having it optional was something we were tinkering on because we do know that there are tons of people out there that are still wearing masks. We know it’s an option and we do see that when we go to places like restaurants, but that is a choice. Broward Schools is a choice and we want people to take that choice,” she said.

Despite the protests, all students in Broward County will have to wear masks when they go back to school on August 18.

Elsewhere in South Florida, students in Miami-Dade will be requiring students to wear face masks in school buses. The decision about an indoor mandate is pending. The first day of school in Dade is August 23.

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