Miami Dade HQ

Under pressure from state, Miami-Dade district moves up resumption of in-person instruction

Sept. 30, 2020
The school board now says the district will resume in-person instruction for all grades by the end of next week.

Under pressure from Florida education officials, the Miami-Dade County school district has again revised plans for offering in-person instruction—it will begin a staggered reopening of schools on Monday, Oct.5, and all students who wish to be back in class will be allowed to return by Friday, Oct. 9.

The Miami Herald reports that the board's decision to revise its plans comes just a few days after it voted to put off a full reopening of schools until later in October, citing concerns about school preparedness.

But a letter from Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran directed the school district to revert to the reopening plan it had put forth in July,

That means that students who opted for in-person learning, students in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, first grade and students with disabilities who follow a modified curriculum will be allowed to return to classrooms Monday.

All other elementary school students, plus students in grades 6, 9 and 10, can start Wednesday, Oct. 7. All other students can return on Friday, Oct. 9.

[FROM LAST WEEK: Florida education commissioner wants Miami district to reopen sooner]

The district must identify and request amendments for any schools that aren’t ready for reopening; Superintendent Alberto Carvalho says he has questions about ventilation and air conditioning for a “handful” of schools.

Carvalho says the district has replaced 40,000 air conditioning filters and a “significant number” are MERV 13 filters, which are the minimum rating ideal during a pandemic.

But most schools are not built with HVAC systems that have the power to push out circulation through those filters, the superintendent conceded

Many called on the school board to stand firm in its decision to delay opening schools. Some saw the state’s pressure as political and perceived Corcoran’s letter as bullying.

Some teachers contend that many school facilities aren't ready to accommodate students.

The director of member advocacy for the teachers union, Joe Minor, said some schools have personal protective equipment, some await delivery and others are on back order. He said some schools have marked restricted seating and others haven’t.

“I contend that nothing has changed,” Minor said. “Not one was ready.”

Teachers union president Karla Hernandez-Mats said the union was appalled at the threatening letter that Corcoran sent to the district.

“Last week you took a very wise and prudent decision,” Hernandez-Mats said, referring to the board’s vote to push back the school reopening date to mid-October. “We can assure you that none of the schools we visited yesterday were 100% ready.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy has been writing about education for American School & University since 1999. He also has reported on schools and other topics for The Chicago Tribune, The Kansas City Star, The Kansas City Times and City News Bureau of Chicago. He is a graduate of Michigan State University.

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