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Miami-Dade district pushes back the beginning of in-person classes until mid-October

Sept. 23, 2020
After a 29-hour meeting, the board sets an Oct. 14 date for some students to begin in-person instruction.

After a 29-hour special meeting, the Miami-Dade County School Board has voted unanimously to push back the gradual start of in-person classes until Oct. 14, more than a week later than first proposed.

The Miami Herald reports that the board is following the staggered reopening of schools that Superintendent Alberto Carvalho has recommended, but with later dates to make sure schools are ready and teachers and staff are protected from the spread of coronavirus.

A soft opening of schools is expected for students in pre-K, kindergarten and first grade and students with special needs on Oct. 14.

All elementary school students, plus students in sixth, ninth and 10th grades are expected to return Monday, Oct. 19. On that day, all high school students, whether learning online or in-person, would go back to starting school at 7:20 a.m.

Schools would be fully open for all students who wish to return to the schoolhouse on Wednesday, Oct. 21.

The timeline applies only to the 51% of students whose parents chose for them to return to school, based on the district’s parental surveys. The remainder of the students will continue with online learning.

Before opening, the school district must also have a “verified provision of all PPE (personal protective equipment) and related resources and full compliance with all required and represented procedures, protocols, personnel, and approaches presented regarding employee and School House Model reopening readiness presented by the Superintendent.”

The board meeting stretched from Monday to Tuesday as more than 18 hours of public comment played overnight. The board received 762 public comments, plus another late 16 comments, on voicemails.

Chief Financial Officer Ron Steiger says the district is giving schools flexibility to hire more custodial staff to replace personnel who have requested leave through the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Board members also were told that the district’s enrollment in traditional public schools dropped by about 12,000, from 267,000 to 255,000 students.

Steiger says that figure fell 8,000 students short of the district’s predictions. Charter schools, however, saw an increase in enrollment, which led to a district total enrollment of 338,000.

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