An empty school classroom. Photo: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock.com
As the coronavirus pandemic continues, there are still calls for a sense of normalcy in our lives. Slowly but surely, places are reopening up and schools are now even being considered for reopening after nearly 7 months of being closed down. The Miami-Dade School Board voted unanimously Tuesday to delay the start of in-person instruction to at least October 14. Students would return to school softly, with all students in physical classrooms by October 21.
The board is following the staggered reopening of schools that Superintendent Alberto Carvalho recommended Monday, but with later dates to make sure schools are ready and teachers and staff are protected from the spread of coronavirus. Superintendent Carvalho initially recommended that students return to school on the following dates:
Pre-Kindergarten through 1st Grade
Elementary School Grades 2-5
Middle School Grade 6
High School Grades 9-10
Middle school Grades 7-8
High School Grades 11-12
A soft opening of schools is expected for students in Pre-K, kindergarten and first grade and students with special needs on October 14. Schools would be fully open for all students who wish to return to the schoolhouse on Oct. 21. The vote came after the board listened to 18 and a half hours of recorded public comment on whether schools should reopen so students can return to their classrooms.
The board received 762 public comments, plus another late 16 comments, on voicemails. Many of those comments were made by district employees, namely teachers, who said they were against reopening schools.
Masks will be required and water fountains will be disconnected. Every school will have bottled water available and water bottle filling stations may be a possibility. Schools will be inspected daily and students will be able to keep their laptops; charging carts will be set up.
Before opening, the school district must also have a “verified provision of all PPE (personal protective equipment) and related resources and full compliance with all required and represented procedures, protocols, personnel, and approaches presented regarding employee and School House Model reopening readiness presented by the Superintendent.”
A formal recommendation from medical experts must be provided to the school board prior to reopening.
Parents and teachers alike are concerned about reopening procedures and how it will be like when kids go back to school physically. Some parents do not want their kids to go to school in person yet, but some parents feel their students will learn better in a classroom. Parents and teachers also expressed concern about aging ventilation systems in some schools.
According to the district, parents will have the option to let their children continue learning virtually. School districts are required by the state to offer in-person learning as an option.
The superintendent has the final say on the start date, but it will be no earlier than October 14 and no later than October 21.
In Broward County, Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie announced families would have the option to send their children back to school with a slow reopening starting Wednesday, October 14 as well. Older students will return to in-person learning by Tuesday, October 20.
Chris began his writing as a hobby while attending Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida. Today he and his wife live in the Orlando area with their three children and dog.