Last Day of School: Success Despite Tumultuous Year at Miami-Dade, Broward Public Schools

Unprecedented challenges were encountered and overcome during the 2020-21 school year

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Excitement for the kids, relief for the grownups. That could sum up the 2020-21 school year.

Remember how it started: every child learning from home, then the Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ system was hacked and crashed, and when schools reopened and kids came back, there were controversies about teachers who had pre-existing conditions being in the classrooms. 

So the school year was tumultuous, but ultimately successful, according to district officials in Miami-Dade and Broward.

“We were able to maintain our schools open, we were able to teach, and we were able to maintain our A rating from the state of Florida,” said Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. 

“We acknowledge that it’s been a year different from anything other, but we have persisted, we have accomplished,” said Dan Gohl, chief academic officer of Broward County Public Schools.

Unprecedented challenges were encountered and overcome, such as teachers instructing students in their classrooms and at home simultaneously, and parents having to juggle everything.

“I think it was different, and different is good sometimes, you know?” said Maria Lopez, a parent who was picking up her child at iPrep Academy in Miami. 

“I think it was better than last spring. Last spring was a bit more chaotic and we had a better idea of what we were getting ourselves into,” said Mike Hiratzka, who was picking up his son in the same line of cars at iPrep Academy. 

“It’s just back and forth, very chaotic, but we’re happy to be coming back to normal,” said another iPrep parent, Alberto de la Portilla. 

For tens of thousands of kids in each county, school is ending Wednesday, but starting up much sooner than normal because the school districts have expanded summer school to make up for the so-called Covid slide. 

Each school district has identified more than 60,000 students who have fallen behind academically. 

“The objective of Summer 305 is simple, it is to finish unfinished learning, it is to mitigate academic regression, it is to make up for time lost,” Carvalho explained. 

“We have purposely intervened with those students who have been struggling and we strongly encourage them to get prepared for next school year,” Gohl said. 

Broward Schools is expecting more than 40,000 students in its summer program, four times as many as a normal year. 

Miami-Dade Schools says more than 40,000 kids have enrolled in its summer programs, and an additional 20,000 have signed up for summer camps run by the Children’s Trust, which will have an academic component. 

Meanwhile, high school graduations are wrapping up. Miami-Dade set a record for the district with a 93.1% graduation rate. 

Speaking at the same news conference with the superintendent, iPrep Academy fourth-grader Mia Noritake summed up the school year perfectly.

“Although this year was really hard, we had a lot of fun learning new things,” Mia said.

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