Day one is in the books and they’re calling it a 'smooth' opening day for Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
Only three families from a population of about 350,000 students intentionally sent their children to school today without masks for the district to see its mandatory masking policy as having widespread support, superintendent Alberto Carvalho said.
“I feel comfortable sending them to school in a mask and I’m happy that Carvalho and the school board voted for masks because we were concerned that we’re sending these little babies into the world and they’re not even old enough to be vaccinated yet,” said Jazmine O’Neill, who has a second-grader and a pre-kindergartener.
The school buses ran on time, classrooms and hallways were buzzing with activity, and it felt almost like the pre-pandemic days.
“Today is the day, as I often say, is the equivalent of reawakening the sleeping giant from its summer nap,” Carvalho said at Barbara Goleman Senior High school, one of three schools he visited today.
Whether it’ is the big kids coming back to high school or the little kids at iPrep Academy, from one end of the grade spectrum to the other, there was an obvious focus on COVID-19 safety and masking up.
“I know it’s less than convenient but necessary,” Carvalho told a group of band students at Goleman High this morning.
Miami-Dade County’s mayor Daniella Levine Cava joined this morning at the school.
“We are all about keeping people safe and masking is really our best tool especially for those who cannot be vaccinated,” Levine-Cava said.
“If we want kids in school where teaching and learning is best, if we want our teachers at work, then we need to make sure we adhere to and embrace these protocols,” Carvalho said holding up his face mask. “This is not a political statement, this is a protective tool for our students and employees.”
Carvalho also visited MAST@FIU Academy, which opened a brand-new, state-of-the-art, carbon-neutral building. The magnet school finally has a home of its own after seven years of using FIU’s classrooms.
“We’ve been waiting so long for this, to actually see it happen, it’s more exciting than you can imagine because seeing it on a drawing just doesn’t compare to actually walking the halls and being with the students,” said principal Matthew Welker.
Some of his students have not been in a classroom since the pandemic began.
“It’s just as if we were here yesterday,” said Liam Miller, a senior.
“It’s felt like multiple years have gone by,” said Liam’s classmate, Kamala Ghunaim.
Different perspectives, same feeling: it’s good to be back at school.