More than 70,000 students in elementary grades, plus grades 6, 9 and 10, came back to the campuses of Miami-Dade County Public Schools Wednesday. That means every single school in the district has now reopened with students in their buildings.
“We were in on time, it was phenomenal, and then we walked the building and we just saw smiles on the faces of the teachers,” said the principal of Coral Reef Senior High School, Nicole Berge-MacInnes.
The district provided video from several schools showing the COVID-prevention protocols in action. Students lined up six feet apart to pick up their lunches. They’re distanced in classrooms, and of course everyone is wearing a mask. That’s mandatory for all students and staff at every campus.
“The mood is positive, it is respectful, there’s a natural period of adaptation everyone is navigating now fairly well,” said Superintendent Alberto Carvalho.
“It’s weird to see everyone with masks and not see their emotions and stuff, but we’re getting through it,” said Matilda Lotter, a sophomore at Krop Senior High School.
She and her classmates could be speaking for students at every school, as three adapt to the new normal.
“Everything was just really strict," said Krop sophomore Jeremiah Poulemont. "Certain places we were able to go in originally were cut off, there was designated area for certain things and it was just really weird, but, I feel as if it’s something all of us students can get used to."
“I’m glad to be out of the house,” added sophomore Giuliana Matus.
Parents, too, have an adjustment to make if their kids are going back to school.
“An emotional roller coaster, but my daughter needs to be here physically,” said Natalie Moscoso, who has a daughter at Eugenia Thomas Elementary School in Doral.
“I’m excited for her just to be back in school, get back to a normal routine,” said Joelle Colon, whose daughter is a sophomore at Krop.
Another parent in the pickup line had the opposite view.
“I'm not that happy, actually, because the virus, it could be coming back,” said Fabrizio Baganelli, who said he argued his daughter should stay home, but she wanted to go back and her mom agreed.
That fear of an outbreak is on everyone’s mind, which is why the COVID prevention is so strict and why Carvalho has a particular message to teachers, parents and students.
“I cannot promise that there isn’t a glitch somewhere, if you need anything, trust me, probably calling the principal or even me is faster than calling the media,” Carvalho said.
The superintendent was reiterating what he said on Monday, that the district has more than enough PPE and supplies such as hand sanitizer for every single classroom and every teacher.
The remaining grades can return on Friday. Roughly half of all students in the district elected to stay home and continue distance learning, which provides room for social distancing in schools.