Miami-Dade, Broward schools vote to return to in-person learning in mid-October

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MIAMI (WSVN) - Board members of Miami-Dade and Broward counties’ school districts have voted to return to in-person learning beginning in mid-October.

M-DCPS Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said he wanted students back on campus on Oct. 5, but the date was pushed back to Oct. 14 in Tuesday’s vote.

“We were ready for a launch as early as next week, in terms of preparedness,” Carvalho said. “We operationalized everything we needed to do. We were planning to do dry runs for our school buses, but obviously, these additional days will allow us to continue to receive additional PPEs, to continue to inspect schools, to continue to ensure that employees who may have underlying conditions and continue to apply for ADA accommodations can do so.”

On that date, officials said it will be a staggered start before all students return to campus by Oct. 21. School board members said they were less than thrilled with Carvalho’s plan to reopen schools.

“This has been the most difficult decision that I’ve had to make as a school board member,” M-DCPS board member Mari Tere Rojas said. “I know it is for the rest of my colleagues, as well. It’s been very, very hard.”

According to the district, parents will have the option to let their children continue learning virtually.

“Meanwhile, online education continues, and that’s important,” Carvalho said. “Online education continues through our MSO approach. Attendance is mandatory, and we don’t want our students to skip a beat.”

Following the district’s decision, some teachers voiced their opinions outside the school system’s headquarters in downtown Miami.

“I think the two weeks will help, but I’m not convinced that the two weeks is enough,” Jennifer Maer, a teacher at Miami Springs Middle School, said.

Also on Tuesday, members of Broward County’s school board met in person for the first time in months to discuss their reopening plan.

Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie announced families will have the option to send their children back to school with a staggered opening starting Oct. 14, the same day as Miami-Dade County. Older students will return to in-person learning by Oct. 20.

“Today, we had a very fruitful conversation, robust discussion with our school board,” he said. “The county has moved to Phase Two of reopening. We’ve continued to see positive trends in development in the management of the spread.”

The superintendent added he would like to have his plan approved by Thursday, which would propose a staggered start date with elementary and K-8 school students starting on Oct. 5.

United Teachers of Dade released a statement on Tuesday’s vote that said they are happy with the decision and very appreciative of the teachers, families and students who provided more than 18 hours of public testimony to push the date back.

“If we’re going to set a date, I think we have to also agree on when we can actually meet at a physical location,” M-DCPS board member Martin Karp said.

The union added that the coming weeks will give them more time to prepare for a safer start date.

Parents, meanwhile, have mixed reactions to the district’s decision.

“They’re going to learn more, and they’re going to learn faster,” Barbra Weiss said. “At home, it’s very complicated.”

“We don’t know what’s going on, if the kids are going to be safe,” Javier Rojas said.

Carvalho said he has a meeting Wednesday to figure out when the start day for the school district will be.

When asked when he expects to make the announcement, Carvalho said he will be making it soon.

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