MIAMI – During a public meeting on Wednesday, the Florida Department of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said there is a new executive order in the works to allow online learning to continue during the coronavirus pandemic.
It was an update that Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho welcomed. As the leader of the state’s largest school district, he told reporters on Wednesday that Corcoran had made the right decision.
“We never received any directive from the state that one modality was going to be discontinued,” Carvalho said. “That’s why today we are celebrating.”
Both Corcoran and Cavalho agree that parents need to continue to have the choice to have children learn from the safety of their home or to send them to a schoolhouse where there are safety precautions in place to prevent infections.
“There are students with disabilities who are better served in a schoolhouse model, because there are English-language learners who require paraprofessional attention, or because the parents are just unable to stay home for them,” Carvalho said.
Carvalho is among the education leaders who believe the decisions about the safety of classrooms during the pandemic need to be made at the local level in response to the local data. The district stopped in-person learning in mid-March when the cases spiked.
Karla Hernández-Mats, the president of the United Teachers of Dade, was opposed to rushing students back to classrooms this fall without the proper funding from the state to implement safety measures. She wants increased coronavirus testing.
Hundreds of Miami-Dade school employees and students have been infected since Oct. 5.
“New York City announced, today that they are not going to open. They are closed and they are only at a 3% positivity rate,” Hernández-Mats said. “We are double that. We are triple that. We’re almost at 10%. What are we doing and how are we protecting our community?”
On Wednesday, Hernández-Mats released a statement saying teachers and educational staff are in favor of online learning to remain through Spring 2021. She also said the state’s support of online learning isn’t enough to deal with the gravity of the public health crisis.
“It is just another self-serving Band-Aid being placed on a gashing wound in the hopes that it won’t bleed out,” Hernández-Mats said.