FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - With school starting soon, the debate over masks is front and center in South Florida.

Many school administrators, parents and students at Broward County Public Schools are divided on the topic.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention suggested new guidelines for students in K-12. They recommend teachers, staff and students wear masks.

“I would love to go back with no mask, but I think it’s just the best safe way to do it, with the mask,” said student Harrison Dakin.

The BCPS board is set to meet Wednesday to discuss mask wearing following the new guidance from the CDC.

“We want to make sure that we have the most current information from the CDC,” said Dr. Rosalind Osgood of the BCPS Board.

Demonstrators, including parents, gathered outside the BCPS headquarters to protest masks by setting them on fire.

“This is my son’s mask from his last day of school,” said parent Deidre Ruth, “and this is healthy for children.”

“It is time to cast off this symbol of tyranny,” one man said.

“It’s time now, whether the legislature has to step in, whether we have to file a lawsuit, and we will do that, it is time now that the masks come off,” said protestor Chris Nelson.

Ruth said her son got sick from wearing a mask in school and feels it led to him falling behind.

“My child is missing the emotional and the social economics of what school’s about,” she said.

“I understand if the elderly wanna wear masks,” said protestor Elon Gerverg. “If they wanna get vaccinated, they should. What we are trying to do is protect our children to be able to have a childhood.”

Weeks ago, Miami-Dade Public Schools announced mask use would be optional in the fall.

M-DPS Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said this decision was made before the current spike. He said in a statement, “In light of the recent release of updated guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, we believe it is prudent to take this back to our taskforce of medical and public health experts. This is an important decision that cannot be rushed and must continue to be evaluated based on the scientific information available.”

The CDC’s move came a day after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis held a closed-door panel discussion on universal masking in schools, something he said should absolutely not be imposed.

“We’ve seen over the summer that there have been numerous school outbreaks in places that haven’t taken the proper prevention strategies,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. “Our goal right now is to make sure that children get back to school to full in-person learning full-time and have a relatively normal school year.”

The teachers union in Miami-Dade said they do support the CDC’s updated guidelines.

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