A quarantine of more than 200 students at MAST Academy that is being blamed on off-campus spreading events will mean that both the boys and girls soccer teams will miss out on state championships, officials confirmed Monday. School and Village leaders said they were planning to redouble messaging campaigns to address what leaders acknowledged was “COVID fatigue” — the difficulty in following mask and social distancing guidelines.
A message from MAST principal Derick McKoy Friday said that “parties, get-togethers as they call them, and sleepovers” appeared connected to 12 positive cases that also led to 25 faculty members being quarantined.
On Monday, the school district confirmed that 48 students on the boys and girls teams would not be able to compete in the state soccer championship tournaments by the Florida High School Athletic Association. The boy’s team was ranked 21st in the state and the girls’s team was ranked 126th.
School Board Member Mari Tere Rojas, whose district includes the nationally-ranked magnet school, said the answer is more education to keep the scholastic mission intact for the students as well as safety for school staff.
“I’m concerned about the regression that has already taken place” because of COVID-19’s effect on the school system, said Rojas. “I am very concerned about student achievement and catching up.”
Key Biscayne Mayor Mike Davey said he understands the frustration with the virus and the need for both adults and children to socialize, but large gatherings undermine public safety efforts.
“We have 3,500 seniors who are at risk,” Davey said. “Sleepovers and parties can’t happen right now.” As of Monday, Key Biscayne had recorded 1,962 cases according to the state COVID-19 dashboard, an increase of 500 cases since Dec. 31.
Some MAST teachers say they are not pleased with what they view as lax conduct and lack of consequences for students and their parents.
“There needs to be stricter enforcement of discipline for students that purposely endanger others’ lives, particularly teachers,” said Allan Miller, who teaches engineering at MAST.
District officials, meanwhile, say they are making sure all safety protocols on campus are being followed, while they make adjustments to classes at MAST to cope with the large number of quarantined students and teachers. Dr. John Pace, a regional superintendent, said the district is bringing in teachers and substitutes from across the system to help.
“We will make sure the coverage is there,” Pace said.
Quarantined students will continue to be able to access learning. In January, Pace said as much as 65% of MAST students had chosen to take classes in person. It’s unclear what in-person attendance was this week following the recent quarantines.