MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Middle and high school students in Miami-Dade can begin obtaining mask exceptions for school beginning Tuesday.

Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho announced on Monday that face masks would no longer be required for middle and high school students as long as their parents complete an opt-out form and return it to their child’s school.

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Carvalho said the decision to make masks optional for these age groups came after significant improvements in the COVID metrics.

The superintendent said Miami-Dade Schools followed a set of criteria, or COVID metrics, including fewer than 100 cases per 100,000 residents in the last two weeks and a decline in new case positivity rates for two consecutive weeks and a decline in student cases. On October 27 there were 15 reported cases and on October 26 there were 13 reported cases.

Other metrics: at least 80 percent of students between the ages of 12 to 18 have to have had at least one vaccine and at least 60 percent have had to have had two vaccines. New daily COVID hospitalizations have to be below 100 for two consecutive days and fewer than 15 percent of hospitalized have to be occupied by COVID patients.

Although students now have an option to wear masks, many students told CBS4 News they will continue to wear their masks at school.

“To protect me more,” said Amanda Hernandez, a student at Miami Senior High. “I know I got the vaccination, but it’s just not fully (sic) protection.”

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She’s not alone in her sentiments, many students said they will continue to mask up.

“I feel like it’s not correct, you never know what’s around, and people should be wearing their mask whether you have the vaccine or not,” said Wilmer Marquez, Miami Senior High student.

Some parents said they will leave the decision up to their children.

“I know that is a big concern,” said Carlos Villarrel, whose daughter attends Miami Senior High School.

He said regarding a decision to wear a mask or not was up to her, “To me, it’s personal.”

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Elementary students and those at K-8 centers will be still be required to wear face masks.
Carvalho said a decision on relaxing restrictions for them could be made soon. He could not set a timetable. Team