The Miami-Dade School Board voted unanimously to start in-person learning Oct. 5 after Florida’s education commissioner demanded they open sooner than planned.
Not every student will return to the classroom at once. Pre-K students, kindergarteners, first graders, and students with special needs on a modified curriculum will return Monday. Friday, Oct. 2 will be a teacher planning day.
Here's reopening phase-in schedule will occur among the following student groups (whose parents opted into the Schoolhouse model). Parents can also visit reopening.dadeschools.net.
Returns Monday, Oct. 5
- Elementary School: Pre-K, K, 1
- K-8 Center: Pre-K, K, 1
- Combination School: Pre-K, K, 1
- ESE Modified Curriculum: all grades
Returns Wednesday, Oct. 7
- Elementary School: 2, 3, 4, 5
- K-8 Center: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
- Middle School: 6
- High School: 9, 10
- Combination School: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10
Returns Friday, Oct. 10
- K-8 Center: 7, 8
- Middle School: 7, 8
- High School: 11, 12
- Combination School: 7, 8, 11, 12
The school board came to the decision Tuesday after hours of discussion at a special meeting.
In letters addressed to Alberto Carvalho and Robert Runcie, superintendents of Miami-Dade and Broward counties, education commissioner Richard Corcoran told the officials that they needed to reopen schools physically by Oct. 5, or else submit justifications as to why each individual school could not reopen.
Last week, Miami-Dade's school board voted unanimously for a staggered reopening plan that would reopen schools no sooner than Oct. 14. All grades would be back and the district fully operational by Oct. 21. Broward County’s school board had also agreed to a staggered schedule running from Oct. 14 to Oct. 20.
However, Corcoran said the staggered reopening poses "extreme difficulty" for families who rely on schools for "specialized services."
"It is also harmful for students who are experiencing violence, abuse and food insecurity in their homes going unnoticed, many of whom were already struggling to close the achievement gap and will now fall even further behind," Corcoran wrote.
If the schools do not reopen by Oct. 5, the commissioner said he would require that the districts provide reasons why each individual school could not reopen by next Friday, Oct. 2.
The teachers union organized a parade of cars honking horns outside the Miami-Dade district headquarters earlier Tuesday as the meeting was going on inside, with the point being to urge the board not to back down.
“We could rip this up,” said board member Dr. Steve Gallon during the meeting, as he ripped the reopening plan in half. “But there will be consequences.”
Forty-five members of the public, most of them parents, teachers, or union representatives, spoke at the meeting. Nearly all of them spoke against opening on Oct. 5. One mom took the opposite view.
“Just make a plan and stick to it, let’s get our children back in school where they belong, thank you very much and let’s remember, we’re doing this for the children, our children are not learning in front of a screen all day long and we do not know what that damage is doing to them,” said the parent. We did not get her name.
The Broward County School Board was holding their own workshop Tuesday to discuss other issues, but was expected to hold a meeting later in the week to discuss reopening.
Runcie told NBC 6 that he believes Broward is already in compliance with the state’s demands, because the district’s plan for reopening, which was previously approved by the state, lists the end of the first marking period as the time when the district would resume in-person classes.
In his letter to Corcoran, Runcie wrote that the plan the Department of Education approved "explicitly" stated that the "District anticipates needing to remain in the eLearning modality for the first quarter of instruction (ending October 16, 2020)."
Meanwhile, MDCPS Chief Communication Officer Daisy Gonzalez-Diego said that “(M-DCPS) is carefully reviewing the letter received from the Commissioner of Education. However, M-DCPS will not be announcing return dates until all implications and concerns outlined in the recently received communication have been assessed and direction from the Board has been received."
Last week, health experts on Miami-Dade’s task force approved the district’s plans for HVAC upgrades, sanitizing protocols, social distancing measures, mandatory facial coverings, and other measures at every school.
“When the commissioner says why can’t you open, Palm Beach opened, he is not being sensitive to what conditions are here in South Florida,” said Miami-Dade County School Board member Dr. Marta Perez. ”In my opinion the fact that south Florida was number one in coronavirus cases, we had that terrible launching of the K-12, I think that if we wait until the 12th, things will be more calm, teachers will have time to prepare and everything will run more smoothly.”