What to Know
- MDCPS said a student at William Lehman Elementary School tested positive for COVID-19 -- the first confirmed case since reopening began Monday
- The United Teachers of Dade said they've identified at least six schools with positive COVID cases
- The district later confirmed Thursday that there are, in fact, "multiple cases" within the system
Miami-Dade County Public Schools confirmed late Thursday that it has "multiple positive cases" of COVID-19 since students returned to the classrooms earlier this week.
District Director Natalia Zea did not specify the number of cases or name the schools impacted. She said those schools and the individuals affected were notified and more information would be on the district's reopening site on Friday morning.
Early Thursday the district did confirm one student at William Lehman Elementary School tested positive for the virus.
The student will remain at home until the Health Department gives them clearance to return, officials said. The student didn't contract the virus at the school, officials said.
"Following established contact tracing procedures, those who were identified as coming in close contact with the student have already been notified and will also remain home until they are also cleared," the district said in a statement. "Although the student’s movements in the school were limited, the entire school was thoroughly sanitized early this morning according to M-DCPS protocols."
The district said all parents and employees were notified Thursday morning.
"We are in constant contact with the department of health here locally and we immediately initiated a contact tracing investigation to identify every single person who had direct contact with this student," School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said Thursday.
Carvalho said they were also investigating possible cases that haven't been confirmed at three other schools.
"It was almost inevitable that as we reopened schools some of these cases would happen. That is why I am appealing to our workforce and our parents to be vigilant and if children are sick, if they have symptoms, please do not send them to schools," Carvalho said.
Teachers union United Teachers of Dade said they have identified six schools with positive COVID cases: Lehman Elementary, Charles D Wyche Elementary, Holmes Elementary, Ponciana Park Elementary, South Pointe Elementary and South Dade Tech. At least one more school has been affected. This has not been confirmed by the school district.
"For the safety and health of our educators, our children, and our community, it was our hope that the reopening of schools would go much better than what we have seen this week," a statement from union president Karla Hernandez-Mats said in part. "Unfortunately, despite loudly voicing our concerns about a premature reopening of schools, we now find ourselves in complete fear and misery after only four days of a partial reopening, both parents and teachers alike."
UTD also said they heard of a case of a child who was sent to school while their sibling was home with COVID-19. Hernandez-Mats also said teachers are still in dire need of sanitation supplies in the classrooms, despite reports of "being fully stocked."
"Unless we all work as a community to mitigate this virus, we will have no choice but to close our doors once again. Gov. DeSantis and the M-DCPS school board should have not put the community at risk over a threat of defunding our schools," Hernandez-Mats said. "Who threatens to take away safety from children during a public health crisis? Those who put politics over people."
Under a staggered reopening plan, students began returning to Miami-Dade schools on Monday for the first time since they were shut down in March amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The school board originally wanted to push the reopening back to mid-October but settled on Monday's start date after Florida's education secretary threatened to withhold state funding.
For Florida's complete summary of COVID cases associated with schools, click here.