Miami (Associated Press) — The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Miami is making face coverings optional for unvaccinated and partially vaccinated students whose parents sign non-participation papers.
The diocese made the announcement Tuesday, citing community COVID-19 statistics and advice from physician advisors, the CDC and the Miami-Dade County Department of Health.
The CDC recommends mask wear in public enclosed spaces, including schools, in areas with high or high community transmission. As of Wednesday, Florida was the only state in the country where transmission was low in nearly every county, according to the CDC’s COVID-19 data tracker.
The diocese said in a statement that face masks were already optional for fully vaccinated students and teachers who have either submitted vaccination cards to the school or been confirmed through the FL SHOTS database.
“We felt this was the time to live up to what we’ve said all along — that we would study the data and agree with it,” Parish spokeswoman Marie Ross Agusta told the Miami Herald.
Public schools in Miami-Dade and Broward counties allowed parents to choose not to have their children wear masks in early November.
If the data goes negative again, Agusta said the procedures will be brought back in place.
She said the diocese will closely monitor the omicron variant and will follow the advice of public health experts.
“Priority No. 1 is the safety of our children and our staff,” Agusta said. “Hopefully we won’t see another outbreak of any variant coming, and this will be a happy time for everyone in schools.”
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