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Public school districts in South Florida discuss teachers COVID-19 protections, vaccines

Public school teachers who have health conditions that increase their risk of COVID-19 are still facing difficulties in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

So far this year, in Miami-Dade, 44 teachers have retired, 48 are on leave, and 56 have submitted full and part-time resignations, according to an official record.

Before a school board meeting, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said this year’s numbers do not show a deviation from last year, and although recruitment isn’t always easy, there haven’t been issues.

“Often finding a good qualified substitute teacher for the South Florida community can be a problem,” Carvalho said, adding “teachers are front line essential, indispensable professionals.”

As the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention prepares to release new regulations to reopen schools, authorities have yet to give teachers priority access to the COVID-19 vaccines.

Carvalho said as of this weekend about 1,000 teachers had been vaccinated.

Gov. Ron DeSantis pushed for school reopenings last year. Miami-Dade and Broward’s schools gave parents a choice to send their children to schools or register them for remote learning.

“We followed the evidence and the data,” DeSantis said during a news conference. “We didn’t follow special interests. We didn’t follow hysteria. We did what was right by students and families.”

The Broward Teacher’s Union reported a victory on Wednesday when an arbitrator ruled that school principals have to meet with union representatives to explain how they reached their decisions to deny remote work extensions.

Related story: School principals to meet with union reps to explain why COVID-19 at-risk teachers can’t work remotely

About the Authors:

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. 

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.