Miami-Dade County Public Schools teachers are taking a crash course right now to learn the district’s new online learning platform.
School starts Monday, with distance learning only, and today the Miami Heat gave the district an assist by passing out 25 free laptops to students identified as needing the help.
"So many families are without the necessary support that they need," said Alonzo Mourning, former Heat player and current Miami Heat executive.
Mourning joined superintendent Alberto Carvalho in passing gear out to families.
Carvalho is mindful that his teachers are scrambling to get up to speed on the My School Online system, which crashed during orientation on Monday.
"But, I remain confident that between now and the 31st teachers will be able to have their classes rostered, will have access to their content and their courses and on the 31st we will have a successful opening of schools," Carvalho said.
"Considering there’s 20,000 teachers trying to learn this in five days, it’s quite an undertaking," said veteran science teacher David Buncher, who will teach this year at the new iPrep North. "We really haven’t had access to that program yet, it’s one thing seeing it on line being taught to us, but the teachers feel that we really have to be able to play around with it in order to get this thing off and running on Monday."
Stevie Peacock is a teacher coach at Madison Middle School.
"I’m definitely sharing that anxiety, everybody’s just kind of learning as we go,” Peacock said. "I mean it does feel pretty last minute to be honest, but we are doing our best, we’ve been looking at demo accounts so far and now it’s just time to explore and get some detail plans going."
"It’s really important for me to try and get my hands dirty in it and I haven’t had the chance to do that so that is kind of giving me a little bit of anxiety," said Tanisha Cidel, theatre teacher at Norland Middle School, echoing her colleagues.
Cidel is hoping for a drama-free start to the school year, and so is Carvalho.
"From the perspective of the teacher I know it may not seem like it all the time, we understand the frustration, every day we adapt and take measures to make it better, all I’m asking of the teachers and parents, be patient with us," Carvalho said.
The superintendent pointed out that the state didn’t approve the district’s plan until July 17th. So, that left just over a month for them to transition to the My School Online platform. It provides a single source for distance learning and teaching, and every teacher we spoke to told us it will be far superior to the online experience students had last spring.
The first week of school will be devoted to teachers and students getting comfortable with the new system before the academic curriculum starts.
As for getting kids back into classrooms, Carvalho reiterated what he told us yesterday, that if the pandemic numbers continue to trend in the right direction, school could physically reopen by mid to late September.
The teacher’s union released a statement saying the district should not rush the reopening of schools. United Teachers of Dade president Karla Hernandez Mats said the district should abide by the benchmarks it established on positivity rates, that they should be trending toward 5% for 14 days with a goal of 3%.
“It would be irresponsible at this juncture to begin talking about prematurely opening schools in Miami-Dade County without having achieved the level of public safety needed to return to the classroom,” Hernandez Mats said.