DeSantis Says Miami-Dade, Broward County Ready to Move into Phase 2 on Monday

Governor-elect Ron DeSantis speaking with attendees at the 2018 Student Action Summit hosted by Turning Point USA at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, USA. Photo and Caption: Gage Skidmore | Flickr

During a press conference on Friday, September 11, alongside Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, Governor Ron DeSantis gave the green light for Miami-Dade and Broward to move into Phase Two of reopening. DeSantis said he is moving forward with Phase 2 in South Florida due to downward trends in COVID-19 positivity rates and virus-related hospitalizations.

The biggest take away from this is it clears the pathway for in-person instruction to resume, of course, at the parent’s discretion, says Governor DeSantis. “I’m announcing that effective Monday, both Broward and Miami-Dade county will be moved into Phase Two,” DeSantis said. Carvalho said that the decision to reopen schools and resume in-person learning is still pending.

The reopening phase allows entertainment businesses including movie theaters, concert houses, auditoriums, playhouses, bowling alleys and arcades to reopen. They have to operate at 50 percent capacity and follow proper social distancing and sanitation protocols.

Carvalho announced during the press conference that a decision about allowing in-person teaching in schools will be decided on before September 30.

Mayor Gimenez said his administration will look into potentially opening other businesses after consulting with medical experts on when it is safe to do so. “Those include entertainment venues like movie theaters, bowling alleys, playhouses and arcades operating at 50% capacity, under strict rules to keep people safe,” Gimenez said. 

Mayor Gimenez said that bars and nightclubs would not be reopening yet, however. The mayor tweeted that county “bars will remain closed by emergency order until further notice.” 

Carvalho also gave an update on when kids can physically go back to school. The mayor said that be decided in the School Board meeting next week once medical experts give the OK. Gimenez said the downward trend in the country’s positivity rate is a factor in why reopening schools and businesses is being considered despite the pandemic still going on.

Carvalho said that once in-school learning continues, all schools will have safety measures in place, including masks being worn at all times by staff and students alike and social distancing guidelines being enforced. Isolation rooms will even be used to help try to stop the spread of germs.

Carvalho said the school district had surveyed parents about their preferences for returning to school. According to Carvalho, 51% of parents in the county want their children to go back to school full-time. DeSantis and Carvalho have stated time and time again that parents will have the option of letting their children attend school or continue to utilize online learning for school.

Governor DeSantis has come under fire in recent weeks due to his downplaying of the risks of contracting the virus in public venues. 

Miami-Dade County remains under 10 pm curfew, but that is also being moved to 11 pm starting Monday.

The Phase 2 plan also allows for public venues such as Zoo Miami and Jungle Island to reopen on Monday, provided they comply with state and local guidelines. 

Broward’s Superintendent Robert Runcie said parents should have the option of sending their kids to school five days a week in October, or other students may get to attend only two or three days a week, depending on how crowded the school gets and how many students wish to return. 

Palm Beach County already had their Phase 2 reopening just a few days ago. Public places like gyms, fitness centers, museums, libraries and stores were allowed to reopen at full capacity, making Palm Beach County the first region to do so. Governor DeSantis mentioned there are 60 school districts in other parts of the state already offering in-person instruction.