Thousands of at-risk students return to classrooms in Miami-Dade County

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Thousands of public school students in Miami-Dade County returned to classroom desks on Monday. This is after the school district sent about 10,000 letters to the parents and guardians of failing students, and about 6,000 agreed to allow them to return to schoolhouses.

Gerson Alvarez, a father of four, said virtual learning during the coronavirus pandemic has been difficult for his children. Three of them are students at Paul Laurence Dunbar Elementary School in Miami’s Overtown.

“It’s kind of hard to have them concentrate on the online classes ... The best thing to do is just pretty much bring them to school, so they could learn and have the best knowledge as possible,” Alvarez said.

According to the school district, close to 170,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade received an “F” grade on their first report card. That’s nearly 9% of the entire student population and about 5 points higher than the same time last year.


“We know who’s losing ground, and there are some children who need to return to the schoolhouse,” Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said.

While speaking to the school board last month, Carvalho said students with working parents who are not able to help with online class tend to suffer more.

That’s why the district sent letters to at-risk students, recommending they return to the classroom for Monday’s start of the second semester.

At-risk students in Broward County were asked to return last week.

Data from that district shows a similar trend with almost 11% of their student body receiving a failing grade. That’s compared to just 4% last year — a 7% jump.

Just like in Miami-Dade County, virtual learning also seems to be the issue.

“We see students who were previously high performing students, some of them are struggling under this method,” Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said.

About the Authors:

Trent Kelly is an award-winning multimedia journalist who joined the Local 10 News team in June 2018. Trent is no stranger to Florida. Born in Tampa, he attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he graduated with honors from the UF College of Journalism and Communications.

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba.