Julissa Arana’s youngest son, who is in 1st grade at Joella C. Good Elementary, was among the nearly 20,000 students who returned to public schoolhouses in Miami-Dade County on Monday.
On Wednesday, it was her son Jacob’s turn. The 3rd-grade student at Joella C. Good in northwest Miami-Dade said he was scared and nervous after his brother warned him about the changes.
Arana said her two sons have been attending Joella C. Good since kindergarten and the school’s administration has earned her trust over the years.
“They need it. Being stuck in front of a computer for eight hours a day is not healthy for a child,” Arana said.
Miami-Dade County Public Schools reported about 44,000 more students, including students in 9th and 10th grades, returned to schoolhouses on Wednesday. More middle and high school students will return on Thursday and Friday.
The new protocols at Miami-Dade public schools during the coronavirus pandemic include more distance between desks, less socializing, more cleaning and disinfecting, and access to hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. The use of face masks is mandatory.
Superintendent Alberto Carvalho visited Coral Reef Senior High School in Miami-Dade’s Richmond Heights neighborhood. He spoke to reporters outside the campus.
“Every PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) needed in schools, every supply that needed to be in schools, was in schools,” Carvalho said.
Since the district didn’t invest in plexiglass separators in classrooms, some teachers installed creative solutions on their own dime. One teacher in Hialeah used clear shower curtains.
School administrators also set up isolation rooms to quarantine students who are displaying COVID-19 symptoms such as a fever, a cough, sore throat, nausea, or a runny nose.
The school board decided to start the gradual reopening despite opposition from United Teachers Dade’s members who were demanding more safety measures.
Karla Hernandez-Mats, the union’s president, attributed the rush to the “personal political agendas” of Gov. Ron DeSantis, and Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran.
President Donald Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, both supporters of charter schools, have been encouraging districts to reopen.
According to the latest Florida Department of Health data on Miami-Dade County, 3,368 deaths are associated with COVID-19, and 172,111 coronavirus infections are confirmed.
Miami-Dade’s reported coronavirus testing positivity rate on Oct. 6 was 3.94%. Before public schools reopened, public health officials started to track cases in schools, including private and charter.
Here is the latest FDOH list of schools with confirmed infections in Miami-Dade:
- Alexander School
- Barbara Goleman Senior High
- Beyond Expectations Academy
- Brownsville Middle School
- Campbell Drive K-8 Center
- Champagnat Catholic School of Hialeah
- Children’s Rainbow Dayschool Academy
- Christ Fellowship Academy in Palmetto Bay
- Christopher Columbus High School
- Concordia Lutheran School
- Diamond Minds Transformational Leadership
- Divine Savior Lutheran Academy in Doral
- Einsteins Learning Center in Hialeah
- Eugenia B. Thomas K-8 Center in Doral
- Florida Christian School
- Frances S. Tucker Elementary School
- Granada Day School in Coral Gables
- Gratigny Elementary School
- Gulliver Academy in Coral Gables
- Gulliver Preparatory in Pinecrest
- Gulliver Schools-Pinecrest High School
- Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High
- Horeb Christian School in Hialeah
- Imater Academy in Hialeah
- International Bilingual Preschool
- Kendall Christian
- Key Point Christian Academy
- Kinloch Park Elementary School
- La Progresiva Presbyterian School Inc.
- Lincoln-Marti Charter School Little Havana Campus
- Lincoln-Marti Community Agency
- Lincoln-Marti Community Agency in Homestead
- Lubavitch Educational Center Inc.
- Mesivta of Greater Miami in Miami Beach
- Miami Country Day School in Miami-Dade
- Miami Lakes Educational Center in Miami Lakes
- Miami Shores Presbyterian Church School
- Miami Southridge Senior High
- Norman S. Edelcup/Sunny Isles Beach K-8 in Sunny Isles Beach
- Palm Springs Elementary School in Hialeah
- Palm Springs Middle School in Hialeah
- Saint Brendan High School
- Saint Timothy Parish School
- Shelton Academy in Doral
- South Miami Senior High School in Miami-Dade
- The 2nd House Academy Corp.
- The Cushman School
- Theodore R. and Thelma A. Gibson Charter School
- Tropical Elementary School
- True North Classical Academy
- West Hialeah Gardens Elementary School
- Westwood Christian School
- Yeshiva Elementary
- Yeshiva Toras Chaim in North Miami Beach
Local 10 News Associate Producer Ashley Orozco contributed to this report.