MIAMI – Students, faculty and staff will return to a full-time face-to-face, in-school instruction format when the new school year kicks off on Thursday, Aug. 27, the Miami Public Schools Board of Education decided at a special meeting Monday night.
“We have a couple of solid pieces in place after the board meeting and MPS are going to return to an in-person format with students on site five days a week for face-to-face instruction,” superintendent Jeremy Hogan said. “But we will still have the virtual instruction option for families that aren’t comfortable yet sending their kids back to school full-time.”
The other big decision at the meeting was to push the first day of school back to Aug. 27.
Three different start dates were on the table: Aug. 27, Aug. 31 and Sept. 8.
Board members voted unanimously for the Aug. 27 start date.
“The reasoning for that is that we need more time to get all of our personal protective equipment in; some of that is on back order,” Hogan said. “And we have technology and some cleaning and sanitation products we are still waiting on. It’s going to give us just a little more time to really fine-tune our training and preparedness, in case we have to educate down the road in a distance format. So those two big pieces are set.”
The district still has a few things they have to clean up in working on their overall plan, according to Hogan, who said they are going to provide more guidance, clarity, and depth for their families and community, and the board still has to approve the entire calendar, which will take place at the next school board meeting Monday, Aug. 10.
“We had some viable options,” he said. “It’s tough because we are in a situation we have never been in before. Without a lot of consistent guidance for schools, we have to lean on experts like health and wellness. And we do that…look at all the guidance.
“As a leadership team, we presented our board with options and talked them through that. Most importantly, we surveyed our community and parents and, overwhelmingly, they wanted us to return to a traditional in-person instructional model and that’s where we leaned when making the final decision.”
Most everyone feels “comfort and are at peace” that MPS will provide the virtual option for their families that aren’t comfortable putting their children back in school with the pandemic still ongoing, according to Hogan.
He said those that have an underlying health condition where they can receive their education virtually can come in to a very small learning environment in the Innovation Center where they can get face-to-face time.
“We’ve got some good things in place, but obviously everything is still a work in progress” Hogan said. “We still look at it on a daily basis and make recommendations or changes as needed, but the start date and method of instruction delivery won’t change before the 27th.
“Now we are still going to be very reactionary to COVID-19 cases among our students and staff. We will keep that as our top priority and we don’t take lightly the health of our staff and students. If we have a number of cases we may have to shut down a classroom or school site for a period of time,” Hogan said.
“We are going to closely work with our health department and will follow their guidance on that, and that will be delineated in our final plan.”