Reopening schools during this pandemic is a tricky proposition. Both Miami-Dade and Broward County Public Schools have said they won’t bring students and teachers back to their campuses until the counties' infection rates go down, so likely not until October.
But what about the private schools?
Today at North Broward Preparatory School, a K-12 private school, NBC 6 found classrooms set up with desks moved far apart, and custodians cleaning every surface. They’re preparing for kids to come back.
“So our goal is to be able to, as quickly and safely, get members of our community back on campus,” said Genevieve Hoppe, the assistant head of school.
North Broward Prep hasn’t yet made a final decision on when all of its kids will come back. They’ve made enough classroom space to physically distance all of the elementary-age students in the Lower School, so they will return on day one, five days a week.
However, grades 6 through 12 will have the option of staying home for online learning or rotating through campus for classroom instruction.
“And so in that case in the hybrid model students are gonna be in blue and gold groups and they would be attending school five days a week but only on campus every other day, with their cohort of students,” Hoppe explained.
Every educator agrees students are better off in the classroom for academic and social reasons but in South Florida, an epicenter of the pandemic, there are two schools of thought about bringing kids physically back to school during this pandemic: do it on the first day of school or wait, like the public schools, until COVID positivity rates come down.
“Really the perspective of that is all students learn really well when they’re with their teachers so I can see why there is a growing need for people to get back on campus and to resume the new normal, but of course we have to make decisions that are going to be able to keep the students safe,” Hoppe said.
A quick survey of some of our local private schools shows that Pine Crest School, American Heritage School, and David Posnack Jewish Day School are giving students the option of classroom instruction on campus on the first day of school or staying home for distance learning.
The Archdiocese of Miami says all of its local Catholic schools will begin the year with distance learning only as they prepare for the return of students at some point. The Archdiocese will reevaluate the situation in September.
Ransom Everglades School and the Gulliver Schools are preparing for face-to-face classroom instruction but like North Broward Prep, they have not yet announced when their campuses would physically reopen for all students.