MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – During its first in-person meeting of the new school year, the Miami-Dade County School Board had two options: whether to stick to the plan they recently approved or follow the state education commissioner’s request to reopen schools on Oct. 5.
Shortly after 7 p.m. they voted on those options, and ultimately decided to listen to the state.
A staggered re-opening to physical schools will run through Oct. 9.
#BREAKING: Miami-Dade @MDCPS votes to reopen physical #classroom starting Oct. 5, then staggered until Oct. 9. Throughout meeting, loss of #millions of $$ in #funding was repeatedly discussed and part of the reason for scrubbing their previous vote to start Oct. 14. @WPLGLocal10 pic.twitter.com/DlvNu15dkF— Hatzel Vela (@HatzelVelaWPLG) September 29, 2020
As Tuesday’s meeting started, a caravan organized by the teacher union arrived, using a hearse to represent their safety concerns regarding opening schools too soon.
“We are appalled that anybody in our school board, that our superintendent or anybody would reconsider what they already stated they would do, which is delay opening only to ensure that safety precautions are being met in every single school,” said Miami-Dade Teacher Union President Karla Hernandez-Mats. “We hope that today, all of our board members have the fortitude, have the spine and the courage to do what is right, because our educators are tired of pivoting.”
In a recent letter, Florida Education Commissioner Robert Corcoran told the Miami-Dade School Board their recent vote to start in-person learning by Oct. 14 contradicts the plan they submitted, which was ultimately approved by the state, to reopen the physical classrooms by Oct. 5.
“It’s very frustrating,” said Miami-Dade School Board Member Lubby Navarro. “Very frustrating to my community to see this back and forth, and I think we should have thought this more thoroughly.”
Added Miami-Dade School Board Member Martin Karp: “We want to take everybody’s considerations into mind. We want to be sensitive and we want to get this right, because it’s about lives.”
Whether classes resume online or in-person, parents are expressing their frustrations.
“We must keep local control over our reopening plan,” said Miami-Dade parent Amanda Prieto.
“If we are truly unprepared then let’s not pretend that we are,” concerned parent Elias Seife stated. “And if we are prepared, then let’s get to it.”
Meanwhile, earlier Tuesday Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis discussed a rapid-response test he thinks can be used in schools.
“If you have that student who starts developing symptoms, they can be obviously taken out,” DeSantis said. “They can be given this test, and then we’ll know within 15 minutes whether it’s Covid or not.”
Following Tuesday’s decision by the school board, the Miami-Dade Teacher’s Union released a statement that read, in part:
“We are appalled that our leadership would put politics over public safety and we are sad because tonight we saw a unanimous vote the discarded everything they said they stood for last week. Today, we know that each student, educator and employee has a price tag on their life.”