The last three Florida school districts that were mandating masks have finally allowed students to opt out. But it is absurd that it took this long, and it’s even more ridiculous that there are any mask mandates in place for children at all.

Miami-Dade will allow students to opt out of mandatory masking starting Friday. Broward County will start in two weeks, and Alachua County will inexcusably wait until students return from winter break in January.

But it is better late than never. There are still 16 states and the District of Columbia mandating masks for children in schools, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is still promoting mask mandates for children “regardless of vaccination status or community transmission levels.”

This is inexcusable. Again, there is simply no science that justifies mandatory masking for children, even if they are unvaccinated. Unvaccinated children are at less risk from COVID-19 than vaccinated 30- to 49-year-old adults. Unvaccinated children are at less risk from COVID-19 than they are from the flu, in terms of both deaths and hospitalizations.

California, the most populous state in the country, requires masks for children in schools and even for those who are sitting on the bench during indoor sports games. According to California’s own data, there have been 705,428 cases of COVID-19 among children and 38 total deaths. Children make up 22.5% of California’s population and 0.05% of COVID-19 deaths in the state.

There is no justification for these mandates that cannot also be used as an excuse to keep them in place permanently. As CDC Director Rochelle Walensky has made clear, this will inevitably move from masking for COVID-19 to masking for the flu and the common cold.

The burden this puts on children far outweighs the almost nonexistent benefits. As American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said when she was caught maskless indoors, “We took them off as people were having a hard time hearing us.” Now imagine that for children in the classroom, in the formative years of their life, roughly eight hours a day, five days a week.

This is safety-ism, not science. There is no justification for these mandates in schools. They are being put in place by people who never want society to return to normal and who obsess over case numbers while ignoring the efficacy of vaccines and treatments. The data show that children are not at serious risk. While Florida may finally have erased any semblance of these mandates, there is no end in sight for millions of children.