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The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Miami is making face coverings optional for unvaccinated and partially vaccinated students whose parents sign opt-out paperwork.
The archdiocese made the announcement Tuesday, citing community COVID-19 statistics and the advice of physician advisors, the CDC and the Miami-Dade County Department of Health.
The CDC recommends mask-wearing in public indoor settings, including schools, in areas of substantial or high community transmission. As of Wednesday, Florida was the only state in the nation where transmission was low in nearly every county, according to the CDC’s COVID-19 data tracker.
Face masks were already optional for fully vaccinated students and teachers who provided vaccination cards to the school or were confirmed through the FL SHOTS database, the archdiocese said in a statement.
“We felt this was the time to live up to what we said all along — that we will study the data and go along with it,” Mary Ross Agosta, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, told the Miami Herald.
Public schools in Miami-Dade and Broward counties allowed parents to opt their children out of wearing masks in early November.
If the data trends negatively again, Agosta said measures will be put back in place.
She said the archdiocese will keep a close eye on the omicron variant and follow the advice of public health experts.
“The No. 1 priority is the safety of our children and staff,” Agosta said. “Hopefully we don’t see another outbreak of any variant that comes through and this will be a happy time for everybody in schools.”