Miami-Dade County Public Schools

‘A Surge is Preventable': Miami-Dade Teachers Prepare for In-Person Classes

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This is the last weekend before public schools reopen in Miami-Dade County.

Friday was a mandatory teacher planning day, so every school was a beehive of activity with staff working to get the buildings ready. We asked teachers from three schools if they and their classrooms were good to go.

“The stairwells all have signs, like which way to go and stuff like that,” said Jen Kaelin as she walked down a hallway at Jose Marti MAST Academy.

Kaelin teaches physics. She says her school, and her classroom, are ready for students. The desks are spread apart and masks and hand sanitizer are available. She wonders if students are ready for the new normal.

“Even with masks and doing the best that we can and trying to do staggered dismissals and transition in the halls and one-way halls, it’s gonna be very difficult for these kids to understand that it’s not how school used to be, how they remember it,” Kaelin said. “We want to be there for the kids but we also want to make sure everyone is staying healthy so it’s a little scary.”

Priscilla Roche told us her school, Shenandoah Middle School, looks prepared.

Well whether I’m ready or not, gonna have to be ready so I’m very nervous and scared but I’m having faith and just gonna do the best I can,” Roche said.

Roche teaches sixth grade, and she’s also a mom. Her daughter goes back to Kenwood K8 on Wednesday.

“I am nervous as a teacher, I think I’m also nervous as a mother because I cannot be there to make sure my daughter wears her mask and doesn’t hug other students,” Roche said.

“It’s absolutely gonna be a challenge,” said Stevie Peacock, a teacher coach at Madison Middle School.

Peacock showed us some of the preps at her school and like other teachers, she’s worried about the unknown. No one knows if the social distancing rules and other measures will be strictly enforced and followed.

“I think physically, yes, the school is ready, it’s just, there’s only so much you can do, right?” Peacock said.

The experts say the key to preventing outbreaks in schools is enforcing the rules.

“A surge is preventable based on our behavior, if we can keep people understanding how critical it is to use the mask and use them consistently and properly, we’ll escape a problem,” said Dr. Aileen Marty of FIU.

Dr. Marty says she is worried about whether the HVAC systems in older buildings are up to speed for the pandemic era. The school district says every school house will be ready with Covid19-prevention measures before kids come back. Pre-K, Kindergarten, 1st graders and ESE students can come back on Monday if they chose that option. The other grades will begin coming back based on a staggered schedule.

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