Mask mandate lifted on Nov. 1 after fall in local COVID infection rates


Henedi Washington

Sophomore Ella Dever works in math class on Nov. 1, the first day masks were no longer mandatory.

The Broward County School Board voted last Tuesday to end mandatory masks for high schools. This change took effect on November 1. 

When the district decided to implement a mask mandate at the start of the school year, COVID infections were at 17 percent infection rate. The board said they would revisit the policy once the rate fell below 3 percent, which sparked the change last week.  

As the week went on, an increasing amount students shed their masks.

The original policy followed CDC guidance that the use of face coverings can “limit the release of infected droplets when talking, coughing and/or sneezing.” The district policy, however, was in defiance of a state order. 

Prior to school opening, Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order to ban mask mandates in Florida public schools. A group of parents challenged the executive order in court and found victory in early September with the circuit judge ruling the order as overstepping DeSantis’s “constitutional authority.” After an appeal by the Governor’s office, the state kept its ban on mask mandates in place. 

Students and parents who spoke out against a mask mandate asserted it should be a personal choice. Meanwhile, many students like sophomore Mariam Kolley were in a state of relief due to the protection the Broward mandate provided against students unmasking. 

“Masks make me feel safe, like I’m making others feel as well,” Kolley said.

Despite feeling protected with masks, students reported they would rather not wear it occasionally, if given the opportunity. 

“It’s not that I desire to wear masks, it’s that I need to,” freshman Ashley Brooks said when school started. 

Although masks are no longer required, some students still choose to wear face coverings because it helps them.

“I still prioritize wearing my mask for my family’s safety,” junior Cristian Carrillo said. “They help me remember that the virus is still a threat.”

According to security head Jermaine Hollis, while the mandate was in place, security staff did have to ask students to pull up their masks in the hallways; few resisted when asked. Now with masks encouraged but not required, that’s one less thing to monitor in crowded hallways.