MIAMI – Teachers need help to protect themselves and their students' families from the coronavirus when they return to Miami-Dade County public schools' classrooms on Monday.
Karla Hernández-Mats, the president of the United Teachers of Dade, warned on Thursday that there are many schools that are not prepared to reopen safely.
Hernández-Mats asked the public to help local public schools with donations of hand sanitizers and personal protective equipment. She said many district employees are worried about being able to maintain proper social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.
“If you have a child, and you have the option of keeping your child online, keep your child online," Hernández-Mats said during a news conference, as she stood in front of boxes of donated supplies. “That is the safest place for your child to be during a pandemic.”
Hernández-Mats said public schools need support from the private sector. She said this is because the public sector has failed them. Gov. Ron DeSantis' administration, she said, had the “audacity” to push for reopening under the threat of cutting funding — and without providing support to do so safely.
“School sites are still lacking viable disinfecting supplies, such as hand sanitizers, antibacterial soap, social distancing markers and masks,” Hernández-Mats said adding the pressure to reopen before the Nov. 3 election is a “political calculation.”
Miami-Dade County Public Schools teachers' first 2020-21 non-optional planning day is on Friday. The district employees are preparing schoolhouses to reopen Monday and Tuesday for students in kindergarten and first grade.
Students with special needs will also return on Monday “to become familiar with the new environment,” according to the district’s reopening plan. The remaining elementary school students and secondary transition-grades students return on Wednesday. Students in all remaining grades return on Friday.
Hernández-Mats did not provide reporters with a list of the schools that need supplies.
The district released the following statement to Local 10 News on Thursday.
“The District prioritized resources to increase existing inventories of cleaning supplies, purchase large quantities of personal protective equipment (PPE), develop and print signage, and procure additional equipment to protect our campuses and comply with our new multi-faceted safety protocols. With these investments, our schools are now equipped with sufficient PPE and sanitization supplies to safely welcome our students and employees back to the schoolhouse for the 2020-2021 school year. As always, we welcome community partners that want to support public education and provide additional resources.”
Some of the items that the District has purchased for our schools include:
• Surface Cleaners & Detergents
• Disinfectant Wipes
• Hand Sanitizer
• Surgical-Disposable Masks
• Fabric-Reusable Masks
• Flooding Sprayers
• Electrostatic Sprayers
• Safety Goggles
• Tyvek Suits
• Face Shields
• Sneeze Guards (Acrylic Partitions)
• Water Bottle Filling Stations
• Social Distancing Signage
• Transparent-Clear Surgical Masks (Special Needs)
• Disposable Gowns / Shoe Covers (Special Needs)
• Isolation Room Supplies
• Medical Gloves
• Privacy Screens
• Resting Cot.