MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Miami-Dade and Broward counties can move into Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced.
DeSantis was speaking at a news conference Friday afternoon along with Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science.
The governor said one of the most important factors in this change is that this clears the pathway for in-person instruction to resume at public schools in South Florida.
DeSantis said the decision to send children back to school, however, will ultimately be left up to parents, who may choose to keep their children in virtual learning.
Gimenez said county officials will continue working with medical experts to determine what other businesses should be reopened in Phase 2.
The mayor had already announced this week that more outdoor venues, like Zoo Miami and Jungle Island, would be allowed to reopen starting on Monday.
He said bars and nightclubs, however, will remain closed.
Broward County is also leaving bars and clubs shuttered. And you won’t see many changes come Monday, Mayor Dale Holness said. They’re starting to discuss the relaxation of other restrictions.
Broward County Public Schools are holding a workshop Sept. 22 to discuss their school reopening plans.
Carvalho, meanwhile, said Miami-Dade’s School Board will be meeting next week with medical experts to make a final decision about when public school students should return to school.
He said they are encouraged by the downward trend in the county’s positivity rate.
“We know and we have known all along that the schoolhouse is the best place for children,” he said.
A @MDCPS decision to #reopen schools to a “schoolhouse” model hinges on countywide #covid19 community spread management. I asked infectious disease expert @ProfDrAMarty about this during Wednesday’s @MiamiDadeCounty virtual news conference. Listen to what she had to say.👇▶️ https://t.co/K0zQet19gd pic.twitter.com/hOhqoQFDIp— Christina Vazquez (@CBoomerVazquez) September 11, 2020
Carvalho said the school district has surveyed parents about their preferences for returning to school, and said parents will have the choice to continue distance learning.
According to Carvalho, 51% of parents in the county want their children to go back to school full-time.
He said all schools will have safety precautions in place, including social distancing measures and even isolation rooms.
He said students and staff members will be required to wear masks at all times.
“Our County’s move to Phase 2, announced by @GovRonDeSantis, lifts a roadblock that prevented us from taking steps to reopen schools,” Carvalho tweeted after the news conference. “With guidance from medical experts & the School Board, we’re optimistic that we’ll be able to make an announcement prior to Sept. 30, as planned.”
A spokeswoman from Broward County Public Schools said no decision on returning to the classroom would be made at this time. She said the School Board will take up the issue at a Sept. 22 workshop.
Palm Beach County joined Phase 2 this week.