What to Know
- Miami-Dade County public schools will have their first day of classes on Aug. 31st; an orientation week is set for Aug. 24th to 28th
- The school year will commence with distance learning, featuring a new online portal where students can access their classes and meetings
- On Sept. 30th, officials will reassess local COVID conditions to decide whether to pivot to in-person classes on Oct. 5th
Miami-Dade County Public Schools officials have released a guide to help parents navigate the upcoming school year, as the coronavirus outbreak in South Florida continues to cause uncertainty about when in-person classes will resume.
The guide, titled Reopen SMART/Return SAFE: A Guide to the Reopening of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, was posted Monday to the schools' website. It lists important dates, resources and phone numbers, and also outlines county educators' plans for mitigating the effects of the pandemic.
"As we approach the first day of school, we understand the importance of ensuring everyone is empowered with the most accurate and timely information, including what changes to expect, who to call, and how to stay safe," a statement from Superintendent Alberto Carvalho reads.
After kicking off with distance learning, officials will reassess COVID risks in September
According to the guide, Miami-Dade County public schools will have their first day of school on August 31st. An orientation period will take place from August 24th to August 28th to allow parents, students and teachers to familiarize themselves with the online learning portal, My School Online.
On September 30th, a reassessment of COVID conditions is set to take place. In order for officials to decide to go forward with in-person schooling, the county must have achieved a sustained positivity rate of less than 10%, showing a trend towards 5% over a 14-day period, among other factors.
Officials have designated October 5th as the target date to pivot to Stage 2, during which in-person classes will resume under the Schoolhouse Model, but this will entirely depend on local coronavirus figures.
Stage 2 does not entail a full return to the classroom; My School Online will be utilized concurrently with the Schoolhouse Model.
The guide notes that "the district will explore the potential for a staggering reopening for students who may have widening learning gaps due to the extensive time they have been away from school. This will allow the transition of subgroups of students to the schoolhouse based on need and academic fragility."
In Stage 3, all students will return to the Schoolhouse Model, although families who opt to continue virtual schooling may do so for the remainder of the year.
Students will be able to access classes, schedules and meetings via the same platform
The new portal that district schools will use allows teachers to interface with their whole class, a small group of students, or individual students "through teleconferencing software similar to Zoom."
Teachers will be able to "respond to students' questions and provide real-time support, and progress monitoring. While logged onto the platform, students can access their lessons, interact with peers, and complete group work."
Parent-student conferences will also take place via the platform.
Morning announcements will take place during the first 15 minutes of the day, and attendance will be taken for each class. Courses from programs like physical education, health education, driver's education and junior ROTC will still be available virtually.
According to the guide, the portal also "affords students personalized learning and support services, such as guidance and mental health counseling, interventions, and therapies as needed."
In-person classes will entail strict regulations to limit physical contact
The district is prepared with strict hygiene and health regulations for when schools are able to pivot to the Schoolhouse Model.
"While students will be learning physically in a classroom during in the Schoolhouse Model, changes to the typical student experience have been made to minimize their risk while in school," the guide reads.
Some of the changes include:
- Limiting the physical sharing of items such a science lab equipment, books and other learning materials
- Requesting students to bring laptops to school to reduce the passing out/sharing of papers
- Arranging student desks and/or seating arrangements to promote social distancing
- Limiting the amount of in-class group work to maintain social distancing
- Face coverings must be worn when in the classroom
Where to reach important resources and information
Miami-Dade County Public Schools' official reopening website includes the most recent updates from officials, as well as a list of frequently asked questions.
A Distance Learning Helpdesk hotline has been set up at 305-995-4357 for parents and students to contact in case they need homework help or any other support in navigating virtual schooling.
A K12 Helpdesk hotline has been set up at 866-512-2273 for any questions on how to use the K12 platform.
The district's Mental Health Assistance Line is available at 305-995-7100 during weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.