MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami-Dade schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho held a news conference Tuesday to say that masks are now optional for elementary school students.

The announcement came as COVID-19 positivity rates continue to fall and COVID-19 vaccinations are available to those five years of age and older.

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“The Superintendent’s decision today has been based on the continued decrease in positivity rates, hospitalizations, and other metrics established by medical experts. As we continue to trend in the correct direction, we will also need to prioritize safety by recommending that children and adults get vaccinated while still maintaining mask-wearing to optimize prevention against COVID-19,” said United Teachers of Dade President Karla Hernandez-Mats in a statement.

Last week, Miami-Dade public schools dropped their mask mandate for middle and high school students.

Parents who want to opt their child out of wearing a mask must fill out a form and return it to the school.

The superintendent said the decision to make masks optional came after significant improvements in the COVID metrics.

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The superintendent said Miami-Dade Schools followed a set of criteria, or COVID metrics, including fewer than 100 cases per 100,000 residents for two consecutive weeks, a decline in new case positivity rates for two consecutive weeks, a decline in student cases, student vaccination rates, and new daily COVID hospitalization.

The authorization of the pediatric Pfizer vaccine for children five and older played a role in the superintendent’s latest decision.

Beginning Friday, the district will have 12 on-site school locations set up to vaccinate children ages five and older. By next week, the number of sites will expand to 70. A spokesperson for the school districts says they are working to finalize the school locations that will be offering the pediatric Pfizer mini-dose.

Select Publix, CVS, and Walmart pharmacies are now administering the pediatric Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses to children. Find pharmacy locations here.

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Select Winn-Dixie pharmacies are also offering the Pfizer vaccine doses to the 5-11 set. Click Here for availability

CBSMiami.com Team