M-DCPS Superintendent: Decisions regarding school closures should be handled locally

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MIAMI (WSVN) - Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ board members met to discuss COVID-19 on school campuses after the governor said the closing of schools statewide should not happen.

Up until Wednesday, M-DCPS Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said when it comes to the coronavirus in classrooms, the decisions, for the most part, have been made on the local level, and he believes it should stay that way.

“Our number one priority is the protection of our students, our employees, their health and well-being,” Carvalho said.

Since Oct. 5, when in-school learning resumed, a total of 105 people, consisting of 58 employees and 47 students, have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the district’s dashboard.

The latest update in Broward County shows 11 staff members and 23 students have tested positive for the virus.

Two schools in Miami-Dade County had to be shut down briefly for cleaning and contact tracing.

“Both times that we shut down each one of those schools, it was done in collaboration with the department of health and the awareness and approval of the department of education,” Carvalho said. “The shutting down of a school is not something that we do lightly. It goes through a vetting process, a protocol and joint decision-making with health entities here in our community.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a Tuesday phone call that he does not want to see school closings in the future.

“Going forward, whatever the future may hold, school closures should be off the table,” DeSantis said. “They don’t do anything to mitigate COVID, but they do cause catastrophic damage to the physical, mental and social well-being of our youth.”

While there have been no lengthy public school re-closings in Miami-Dade County, should there be a need to consider one, the superintendent said the decision should start locally.

“We’re going to continue to follow our protocol,” Carvalho said, “and our protocol is guided by the number of people impacted, the time of notification, consultation with the local health department. Those are the key elements that put us in a position of making a decision that’s in the best interest of our students.”

M-DCPS has also received 7,200 rapid COVID-19 tests, and they are in the process of developing a plan to administer and distribute those tests.

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