Miami-Dade’s school superintendent says he has major concerns about opening up schools to students next month due to the coronavirus pandemic - while saying he is working closely with local health officials to come up with a possible solution as early as this week.
Superintendent Alberto Carvalho took part in an event Saturday at the Gardens of Kendall, distributing food to families in need while answering questions about the possibility of starting the school year virtually.
“In Miami-Dade, we’re one of the hot spots. It puts us in a position of quite frankly trying to monitor the conditions, we are about a month away from the regular opening of schools - we could push back the opening a little bit,” Carvalho said. “We can bring the students in waves to not allow for any large congregation of students.
Carvalho said community spread is so concerning that an ‘online learning only’ start could happen with in-class instruction being delayed until COVID-19 numbers get better, pointing out the revised guidelines for school reopenings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will play a role in his decision.
“While the CDC guidelines encourage for schools to reopen and for kids to return to physical schooling, it recognizes that in hotspots across the country where the level of infection is very high above 5% that you should really consult with the health department,” he said.
That’s all part of a plan, Carvalho says, coming in the next few days that will including an online learning system that is new and improved. His message to parents that want their students back in school: make sure your families are doing their part to help bring down the community spread.
“We don’t know yet,” said Jeremy Otmezguine, who has two children in a South Florida high school. “It also depends on the procedures. If it’s done the right way, then I don’t really have a problem with sending them to school. As long as it’s safe and they do it in the proper way then it’s not an issue.”
In Broward County, school superintendent Robert Runcie says he will recommend distance learning as the sole option to start the 2020-21 school year as the numbers have not improved in terms of positive cases of the virus in the county.
“That is the only way we can educate our students while keeping them and their teachers healthy and safe,” Runcie said.
Runcie did not close the door on the idea that students could return to classrooms at some point during the upcoming year.
“When conditions improve, and we hope it will not be too distant, additional options would be introduced including face-to-face,” he added.