South Florida school owners permitted to reopen portion of facility

About 50 children expected to return to Aventura Learning Center Tuesday

The owners of a South Florida school told Local 10 News on Tuesday that the city of North Miami Beach forced them to shut down because of confusion about how their business was classified.

NORTH MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – The owners of a South Florida school told Local 10 News on Tuesday that the city of North Miami Beach forced them to shut down because of confusion about how their business was classified.

The facility operates as a private elementary school, but it’s primarily a daycare.

Daycares in Florida are considered essential businesses and are allowed to remain open, but schools have been forced to close.

The confusion has since been cleared up and now the doors are open with staff members on hand ready to receive parents dropping off their children.

Aventura Learning Center serves between 200 and 300 children ranging from infancy to fifth grade, but fewer than 50 kids are estimated to be returning Tuesday.

The facility has been shut down since March 13.

When the owners announced they were planning to reopen Monday, code enforcement showed up to stop them, the owners told Local 10 News.

The owners said they had a conversation with the city and both sides agreed that the school portion of the facility would remain closed, but the daycare center would be allowed to reopen.

When the crisis first broke out, many parents were too afraid to take their kids to the daycare, but in recent weeks, the demand for child care services has increased, the owners said.

“We are happy to be open,” Aventura Learning Center owner and Director Eileen Otero said. “It’s been a process, but we were able to come in agreement with the city, and for them to see that our services are needed for essential families that depend on us and also, in addition to the families we have in our schools.”

Normally it could cost several hundred dollars a week to drop your kids off at the daycare center, but the owners said they are planning to waive tuition for parents through the month of May.

Below is a list of precautions taken by the school:

  • Students must maintain a 6-foot distance
  • Children over 3 must wear face masks and wash hands more frequently
  • Staff members will take students’ temperatures before they go home
  • Staff members will sterilize the environment
  • No more than 10 students are allowed per room.

The City of Miami Beach released the following statement Tuesday:

"Like most of the community, the City of North Miami Beach became aware that the Aventura Learning Center (ALC), a child care facility and elementary school in the City, was intending to fully open for business on Monday, May 4. The City intervened over the weekend advising ALC that its school component was restricted from opening by Miami-Dade County Emergency Order 07-20, that its facility business tax receipts had expired, and that the City would force ALC to close if it violated Emergency Orders.

"ALC personnel and City officials, on Monday, discussed under what requirements ALC’s child care facility—and only its child care facility—would be able to safely and legally operate under state and local emergency orders and City code enforcement regulations.

“ALC has met all of its obligations and is now able to operate its child care facility under emergency orders. The City expected ALC to collaborate with City officials to put out a statement explaining how it was intending to comply with County orders prior to its re-opening; regrettably, that did not happen. Protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the community is the City of North Miami Beach’s top concern, and we will monitor ALC’s operation to ensure it complies with current regulations.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that police officers went to the business Monday. North Miami Beach police say only code enforcement officers visited the school.