Miami-Dade County Schools will start year with distance learning, superintendent says

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Students in the Miami-Dade County Public School District, the fourth largest school district in the United States, will not be returning to classrooms. Instead, the school year will follow online and distance learning models.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho made a formal announced Wednesday.

Students will continue remote learning in Miami-Dade (WPLG)

“In light of the viral surge in our community, we believe it is in the best interest of our students and employees to delay the return to the schoolhouse and commence the 2021 school year from a distance,” Carvalho said during a virtual conference.

Carvalho also announced that the opening date of school would be pushed back from Aug. 24 to Aug. 31. He said the delay is so that teachers and students can get prepared for online schooling.

Carvalho also indicated that he hopes to move the district in Stage 2 on Oct. 5, which means a mix of in-classroom and online learning. But he says all that depends on COVID-19 rates in Miami-Dade County closer to that time.

The news delivered Wednesday was a follow up to what the superintendent said on July 15 – that returning to physical buildings would not happen unless the positivity rates went below 10 percent, that Intensive Care Unit capacity was better and there were less hospitalizations.

“It is actually counter-intuitive and dangerous,” he said.

On a Zoom conference call Wednesday, Dr. Leo Alonso, an emergency room doctor in Jacksonville, along with two other doctors, including one from South Florida were highly critical of reopening classrooms.

“I see it in the ER all the time,” Alonso said. “Yes, children do have milder symptoms and actually many have no symptoms but yet they can spread the disease.”

And, he said, in multi-generational homes that could be a problem.

Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie is also planning on not reopening schools in his district during the coronavirus pandemic. He said on Tuesday that he is recommending that distance learning continues as long as infections are increasing. Schools starts in Broward on Aug. 19.

However, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis held a roundtable discussion Wednesday in Clearwater on education amid the coronavirus pandemic, where he reiterated his stance that Florida children should return to in-person learning this fall while also giving parents a choice.

“I would have no problem and I would absolutely have my kids in school because i do think that it’s safe to do so,” DeSantis said during the roundtable.

[WATCH: Education discussion with Florida governor in Clearwater.]

About the Authors:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba. 

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true-crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local