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Miami Dade College to reopen Monday with ‘risky’ hybrid model

MIAMIMiami Dade College plans to reopen classrooms at eight campuses on Monday to tens of thousands of commuter students. There will be new steps to help prevent coronavirus infections such as requiring face masks and temperature checks.

The college’s new hybrid model will combine classroom lectures with online classes. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers it riskier than the virtual-only option.

Elizabeth Ramsay, the president of the United Faculty of Miami Dade College, said the college allowed some exceptions for employees with health conditions, but there are still concerns. Some of the risks are unique to a commuter school with students who are also working.

“What we are doing by bringing people back to campus is needlessly increasing the risk of exposure,” Ramsay said. “We could be serving as a place where vectors go out into the community and spread the disease because so many of our students work in health care environments."

Ramsay said the members of the faculty union have asked the college administration to invest in making coronavirus testing easily accessible and on setting up an effecting contact tracing strategy to quickly deal with outbreaks.

“All members of the MDC community must know the college’s contact-tracing, self-isolation, and privacy policies as well as procedures regarding loss of work and interruption of academic progress,” Ramsay wrote in a July 21 letter sent to Rolando Montoya, the college’s interim president.

About 17,830 people signed a Change.org petition asking the college to delay in-person learning. While the disease was spreading, students worried about crowded classrooms. Juancho Martinez is among the students who live with grandparents who are more at risk to contract COVID-19.

“The professors are basically asking us whether you want to go or not," Martinez said, adding he chose to avoid the hybrid model to help protect his grandparents.

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