MIAMI (WSVN) – Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said the reopening of schools will depend on COVID-19 numbers.
The Miami-Dade School Board’s original plan was to give parents and families the option of how kids should go back to school in August, whether it’s e-learning, face-to-face instruction or both. However, Carvalho said that may be changing.
“We’re not in a position of reopening schools,” he said.
The superintendent discussed the county’s stance during a Wednesday night school board meeting, and he explained how the county will get students and parents ready if online learning is the final choice moving forward.
“The way the distance learning process took place last year is not going to be repeated come this August,” he said. “It is a much more forceful, much more elegant, much more user-friendly [system] at all levels.”
Carvalho said that if the numbers don’t change within the next six weeks, schools will not reopen in Miami-Dade County.
“Miami-Dade is in a different position than the rest of the state in terms of local health conditions, and obviously, flexibility needs to be afforded,” he said.
District leadership and local health experts agree with Carvalho. He said that the only way students will be back in the classroom is if there’s “a decrease in the positivity rate below 10%, a sustained decrease in the number of overall cases in our community [and] a sustained decrease in utilization of ICU beds.”
Carvalho’s statement comes as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been pushing for state schools to reopen in the next few weeks. The governor also showed empathy for parents who want another option.
“I’m confident that it can be done because I’ve seen it done in other areas of life over the past several months,” he said. “I think it’s important that parents have the ability to make a choice. Parents need to have the ability to opt for the type of learning that they think is important. If they’re more comfortable in a distance learning environment, then they obviously need to have that choice.”
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has threatened to cut federal funding for school districts that don’t reopen their classrooms in the fall.
“Vice president said, in as much as physical schooling is the best option for kids, and we recognize and accept that, that there are some communities, some districts that are facing significant limitations and ought to provide those districts with the necessary flexibility,” Carvalho said.
Carvalho said parents who responded to a district survey on the upcoming school year were split, with half wanting face-to-face learning and the other half wanting online instruction.
“Whether or not we reopen schools in a physical manner, or reopen schools to begin with sustained continuous learning depends on local health data existing here at that time,” Carvalho said.
Carvalho’s comments come a day after Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie spoke on their reopening of schools.
“When we open schools in the fall, I am recommending that instruction will be 100% e-learning,” Runcie said.
The decision to reopen schools in Miami-Dade, however, is still up in the air.
“To the extent that this community actually values what I value, which is the return of students back to the best way of actually teaching them, inside a school with a caring teacher, then we, as a community, need to do our very best in terms of mitigating our own behaviors,” Carvalho said.
Those behaviors will determine what happens in the fall, the superintendent added.
“We will be ready for school on Aug. 24,” Carvalho said. “Exactly how? That’s the issue that’s still being determined.”
The superintendent said they will continue monitoring the data and talking to experts before they make a final decision in the next six weeks.
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