The schoolhouse doors could be swinging open in Miami-Dade County in as few as 19 days.
Gov. Ron DeSantis came to what has been the hotbed of coronavirus in Florida Friday and gave the green light to move to Phase 2 reopening, the first necessary step for schools to offer in-person learning to students and parents who want it.
“Being able to be back in with those teachers with those mentors will really help their development and is absolutely critical,” DeSantis said. “That will now soon be a reality."
And it could happen as soon as the end of the month, said schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho, who stood beside the governor at a news conference at the Frost Science Museum.
The exact date of reopening will be decided by the school board, which meets Thursday to discuss the matter.
But with the county’s positivity rate trending down below 5%, and with hospital and ICU capacities back up, it’s now a matter of when, not if, schools will reopen.
“I’m not going to make a prediction at this point, but based on the trend lines we will be reaching conditions…that would be suitable for a return to school sometime later this month,” Carvalho said.
While the move comes after the disastrous, now-aborted roll out of an online learning system, Carvalho said that will not factor into the decision.
“I want to be informed by our heath experts,” Carvalho said. “This is not a political decision. This is a scientifically informed decision."
Among the eight gating criteria the schools created before it would reopen, a positivity rate trending below 5% and hitting 3% is the clearest metric. And Carvahlo carried a chart Friday showing the rate is trending toward hitting 3% by Sept. 22.
Other criteria — like widely available rapid testing and contact tracing — are harder to measure, but the superintendent said they, too, were on their way to being met.