MIAMI (WSVN) - Miami-Dade County Public Schools students will begin the upcoming academic year online.

School officials announced that students will begin the year with online learning at the start of the school year on Aug. 31.

“In light of the viral surge in our community, we believe it is in the best interests of our students and employees to delay the return to the school house and commence the 2021 school year from a distance,” said M-DCPS Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. “All students will officially be returning to schooling on Aug. 31. This is, in essence, a one week delay from the first day of school originally approved earlier on in the year.”

Carvalho said officials will begin laying the groundwork for the school year the week of Aug. 24, with classes to start a week later, on Aug. 31, with the launch of their new distance learning program called My School Online.

Students will attend school during regular hours and follow the standard school schedule. Officials said attendance will be taken, and school lunch distribution at county schools will continue when the school year begins.

The superintendent said the district will continue to monitor COVID conditions and speak to professionals throughout September if they can move into Stage Two of reopening, which allows parents to choose in-person or online instruction for their children.

“We are ready to reopen smart and return safe,” Carvalho said. “We are hoping that conditions improve considerably in the next several weeks so that we can transition to Stage Two on Oct. 5.”

Carvalho said a decision on potentially moving to Phase 2 will be announced no later than Sept. 30.

Stage Three of the school district’s reopening will consist of traditional learning with the option of online learning.

When campuses reopen, the district said each school will have advanced safety precautions, such as mask requirements, scheduled deep cleanings of heavily-used areas, staggered seating in classrooms and on buses for social distancing and providing additional hand washing stations.

Miami-Dade’s decision comes after Broward announced similar plans to start the school year online.

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