NORTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - Students across South Florida are gearing up for the first day of school, Monday morning,
Backpacks are packed, pencils have been sharpened and the classrooms are waiting. “Yes, we are excited,” said one parent. “Love the new school year.”
In Broward County, more than 270,000 students will be heading back to school. Both Broward and Miami-Dade schools superintendents zigzagged across their districts along with school bus drivers to welcome students and faculty back.
“This is where the school day starts, right? It’s with our bus drivers,” said Broward County Superintendent Robert Runcie.
A few schools in particular got a special welcome. Broadview Elementary students in Broward were greeted by the Florida Panthers hockey team, while students at McCrary Jr. Elementary in Miami were greeted by members of the Miami Heat.
“I feel like they’re really excited to come to school, but it’s too early, so they’re not used to it,” said Miami Heat forward Bam Adebayo. “It looks like they’re having fun.”
In Miami-Dade County Public Schools County Superintendent Alberto Carvalho made some early rounds over the weekend to ensure schools were ready to go. “Three hundred and twenty-five thousand kids returning back to school, 20,000 teachers, and this year is gonna be a really special one,” he said.
This year, the district is using hands-on training to get students ready for the careers of their future — cyber security, business and animation are just a few of the magnet and choice programs added in 2017.
“Dozens and dozens of renovations across Miami-Dade that kids will walk into for the very first time,” said Carvalho. “New technology and new interactive boards in every single classroom, Wi-Fi, new books. Everything is new, everything is fresh.”
However, students and parents aren’t the only ones who’ve been preparing for school over the summer. Teachers and administrators have been hard at work for the beginning of the 2017 school year.
More than 2,400 school administrators and faculty in Miami-Dade attended a synergy workshop in preparation for the upcoming school year. This year’s theme was “Making Magic Happen.”
“They start off as a school team working on a strategic planning course for three hours,” said Miami-Dade County Public Schools Dr. Sarah Chatel, “and that’s where they do a lot of reflections from the previous year and start planning.”
Another exciting event during this year’s first day of school is the visible solar eclipse. School officials said students will get an excused absence if they miss the first day because of this natural phenomenon.
However, officials are reminding parents and students of the dangers of looking directly at the sun. “All outdoor activities will be suspended,” said Runcie. “We’re also gonna use this as an educational opportunity, so we’ve provided instructional guidance to our schools on how to do that.”
As far as this year’s nutrition plan, students are going to be fueling up to hit the books with healthier and tastier meals.
Administrators in Broward County have opted for healthier breakfast and lunch options for students. It’s part of the “Wellness in Schools” program that connects schools with local chefs to encourage healthy eating.
“Every year we try to introduce some new items, just keep things fresh for our students,” said Darlene Moppert.
Miami-Dade Public School District Food and Nutrition Services is also giving students something to look forward to by adding some healthy and fun food choices. “This is our hummus bento box, beef street taco, three cheese calzone,” said one school official.
In Miami-Dade, all students will have access to free breakfast and lunch for the first 20 days of school. After that, parents will have to fill out forms to make sure they’re eligible for free or reduced meals.
While parents have been shopping for school supplies, Broward and Miami-Dade school bus drivers have been testing their routes. “We have over 1,000 buses out on the road,” said Carvalho. “I’m urging drivers to be careful where school zones are active. Slow it down or get a ticket.”
Drivers went on a dry run over the weekend, so they’d be familiar with their stops on Monday.
“This is probably one of the most exciting days of the year, right,” said one driver. “That’s why we’re here. It’s for our kids, our families, so we’re excited to have them back.”
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