By Bryan Boggiano

Students and teachers across Broward County are required to wear masks this upcoming year — but that doesn’t include everyone.

Somerset Parkland Academy announced they would not require masks, according to a letter from Principal Geyler Castro. However, the school recommends students on campus use facial coverings while indoors.

Castro cites Governor Ron DeSantis’s executive order banning mask mandates as the reason why masks will be voluntary. However, she notes masks limit who needs to quarantine if exposed to COVID and that both the CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics support them.

Castro wrote that guidelines, rules, and policy recommendations could change.

The policy of Somerset stands in stark contrast with Broward County Public Schools, which mandates masks for students, teachers, staff, and visitors. 

The letter also listed guidelines for students to follow if they have COVID, have possibly been exposed to the virus, or if the student or member of their household is waiting for test results. 

Somerset also attached a letter from Dr. Dakeyan C. Graham, executive director of the Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice, which gave directions on implementing these rules.

Neither Castro nor anyone from the governing board could be reached for comment. 

One parent, who wishes to remain anonymous, reached out to Parkland Talk and expressed her concern. She alleged that the school is not following guidance from either the CDC or AAP.

The mother, who has one child attending the school, said four people she knows withdrew children from Somerset in the last two days. 

The mother stated that the governor politicized masks, and the board is not following the science and fears that maskless students could help spread the now-dominant Delta variant, which can lead to breakthrough infections among the vaccinated and more severe infections in children.

The news also comes as the latest data show only five unoccupied pediatric ICU beds remain in Broward County. 

“They are sacrificing children and children’s families’ lives to satisfy Governor DeSantis,” she said.

She believes masks should not be political, considering they reduce infections and save lives, and cited the Principal’s letter.

“It’s not an issue of whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat,” she said, “It’s a public health issue of keeping everyone safe.”

Somerset Charter School Adherence to Emergency Order- Parent Letter

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Bryan Boggiano
A University of Florida journalism graduate, Bryan plans to pursue geosciences at Florida International University for his master's. He has a strong interest in weather, entertainment, and journalism.

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