MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Medical officials joined members of the Miami-Dade School Board on Monday to present data on COVID-19 positivity rates, hospitalization, mortality, morbidity and ICU bed usage.
During the meeting, School Board Member Dr. Lubby Navarro voiced her concerns about online classes, saying that some students are being left home alone or with siblings as their parents have to go to work to provide for their families and many children are, in fact, safer in schools.
Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said he agreed with Navarro’s concerns and said that bringing the number of cases down is “contingent on how closely the community at large is following the (CDC) guidelines.”
Carvalho said schools have not been super-spreaders of the virus, but it’s behavior outside of schools that have been contributing to increasing cases.
Carvalho also addressed some other issues the district is seeing with online learning.
“As a result of online learning, there are many students who have simply disappeared from our rolls across the county. We are dealing with 1,000 students at this point they are still being investigated for their whereabouts,” he said. “Secondly there are students in a troublesome way truant from school.”
Watch a replay of the meeting below:
Last month, Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran issued a new executive order, which approves funding to continue classes online during the pandemic.
“Parents must be notified if a student is struggling with virtual learning. Then the student must return to in-person instruction unless the parent affirmatively opts out and says they still want to remain virtual,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a news conference last month.
Carvalho said that’s already been the policy for Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
Health officials and school officials also discussed the difference in standards between public schools and private schools, some of which not only require a quarantine period for students and staff members who test positive for the virus, but also require negative COVID-19 tests.
Dr. Aileen Marty, who is an infectious disease specialist, said it was imperative to understand that not all tests are created equal and that she would support a shorter quarantine period for those who test negative with a PCR test, which is largely considered the gold standard in coronavirus testing.
School board members also talked about vaccines and asked doctors whether school staff members should be prioritized in receiving vaccines once they are available — something that hasn’t yet been determined.
Broward County’s school board is scheduled to meet Tuesday.
Monday’s meeting in Miami-Dade came days after the state department’s latest report showed there are verified COVID-19 cases among students or faculty at 1,161 primary and secondary schools across Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe counties since early September.
That total was up from 955 schools two weeks prior.
The Florida Department of Health posts a weekly report on coronavirus cases at schools across the state dating back to Sept. 6. The latest report — released last Wednesday and included at the bottom of this page — shows cases confirmed through Nov. 28.
The report does not specify whether the infected students and faculty have been participating in in-person learning.
Miami-Dade has 548 schools listed with cases dating back to early September, up from 422 in the report two weeks prior.
View and download the state’s latest report on COVID-19 in schools below: