Miami-Dade Public Schools ready for students, super says

Alberto Carvalho says COVID screenings, other enhancements in place, district still has some shortages

COVID screenings, enhanced cleaning and air-filtration systems along with mask-wearing will greet students going back to school in Miami-Dade on Monday.

MIAMI, Fla. – While Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho still has a few stress points to iron out before students head back to classrooms Monday for in-person schooling, Carvalho said he is confident the district is ready.

The district is still working to fill about 60 bus driving routes out of 1,000 throughout the district and are short 50 teachers.

Carvalho said students and parents can expect a different classroom for the 2021-2022 school year.

COVID-19 screenings, better cleaning, air filtration systems and air conditioning units are some of the enhancements to name a few.

The biggest topic in the new school year is the debate over masks in schools.

Broward County is feeling the heat of the state’s board of education, which has given the district 48 hours to comply with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ mandate, which allows parents to decide if their children should have to wear face coverings.

Miami-Dade County, also went the way of Broward County, and voted to approve a face mask mandate as well.

“We are focusing less now on the threats and the consequences and the pressures from other government entities,” Carvalho said.

He said he’s ready for what may come as he also recommended a mask mandate despite opposition from the state.

“We are determined and unflinching in our conviction that doing right sometimes comes with threatening conditions but that defines who we are and we remain steadfast in support of the protocols we adopted,” Carvalho said.

Teachers like Maria Marrero  is cautiously optimistic about Monday and ready to get going. " . . . Making sure that we are really ready. I think that is my biggest concern sometimes (is) filling in the gaps if there are any because all of us did try,” Marreo said.

Also on Friday, the district issued a press release about improvements to many of its facilities, which listed expenditures that totaled $889 million for renovations, remodeling and replacing schools, and technology upgrades. Some of the specific projects included:

Temporary Herbert A. Ammons Middle, $24 million: Includes a new 59,225 sq. foot, 750-student station, two-story facility featuring seven kindergarten classrooms each with an individual restroom; 20 primary classrooms, eight with individual restrooms, 10 intermediate classrooms, and two K-5 classrooms.

Georgia Jones-Ayers Middle School, $4 million: Includes site area asphalt paving, PE shelter, demolition of portables, exterior paint, life safety upgrades, fire alarms, a new corridor that allows for fresh air circulation, locker room renovation, HVAC system and new computer labs.

Toni Bilbao Preparatory Academy Middle School, $11.8 million: An addition that includes construction of a three-story building with 454-student stations, with all required connecting covered walkways; 47 new parking spaces and related drainage and landscaping.

Comstock Elementary, $14 million: Includes a new, three-story, 38,140-sq.-foot classroom building with covered walkways, landscaping, grading and drainage; selective demolition; a new parking area, emergency generator, Energy Management System (EMS), and fire alarm system with connections to all existing campus facilities. New security cameras will connect with the existing system.

Coral Gables Senior High School Phase I & II, $26 million: Includes a new 357-student station, two-story addition comprised of two art labs, kiln room, student restrooms, two staff restrooms, two social studies classrooms, gymnastics/dance room, dining and serving area, covered dining area, four computer labs, resource room, drafting and design. Phase II will consist of upgrades to all windows, flooring, ceiling, lighting and HVAC system throughout the campus.

Lillie C. Evans K-8 Center, $2.6 million: Includes the renovation of ground-level classroom buildings with new flooring and student service center millwork, interior painting, the remodeling of restrooms to adhere to ADA requirements, selective exterior painting, a new hydraulic elevator building structure and new HVAC system in the cafeteria.

Fairlawn Elementary, $1.2 million: Includes the construction of a new two-story, 1,500-sq.-foot, two-classroom building addition with new flooring, new LED lighting, two Promethean boards, new furniture fixtures and new storage cabinets. Replacement of the air handler unit (AHU) in the existing dining area. The addition will be attached to an existing building through an existing covered walkway and stairs.

Joella C. Good Elementary, $4.9 million: Scope of work includes a new fire alarm system, aluminum-covered walkway connecting the parent drop-off area to the main school building, a digital marquee sign and security cameras; resealing and re-stripping the staff/visitors parking lot, main entrance bus drop-off, and the parent drop off area; resurfacing and re-stripping of basketball courts; selective upgrade of perimeter fencing, window and HVAC system repair and replacement.

Marine Academy of Science and Technology (MAST) at Florida International University (FIU), $19.7 million: Unveiling in the fall it is the only public high school in Florida with a collaborative partnership with a public university. New facility will feature 640 new student stations, a unique wetland research area, environmental labs and an open classroom with canoes and boat storage.

Miami Edison Senior, $4.4 million: Includes restroom renovations, HVAC system improvements on three stories of the main building and upgrades to the existing parking lot.

Miami Palmetto Senior High Phase III, $53.1 million: Includes partial replacement and renovation of an approximately 134,000 sq.-foot, multi-story facility with 101 new student stations. The building will have general purpose classrooms, skills labs, art, music and dance studios, vocational labs, an administration office, support spaces, covered walkways and parking. Also included in the project is a new one-story art/music/dance studio and theater, new hardcourts, a playfield and dining courtyard.

Ojus Elementary Phase III, $1.8 million: Includes partial window and ceiling replacement; lighting replacement in classrooms and administration office; remodeling existing student restrooms to adhere to ADA requirements; exterior door replacement; student restroom renovations; partial exterior painting, new ADA entry ramp, and emergency lighting.

Palm Springs North Elementary, $13.5 million: Includes a 24,500-sq-foot, two-story building with eight primary classrooms, 17 intermediate classrooms, a media center, covered walkways, a parking area and courtyard.

Pine Villa Elementary Phase II, the $2.3 million: Includes the demolition of 11 portables and Building 5, remodeling of student restrooms, replacement of windows, exhaust fans, window AC units, drinking fountains, grease trap, vinyl composition & carpet flooring, as well as the repair of the public address system and upgrading of the kindergarten-play area surface. Also added were fire alarm & security alarm systems; selective paint throughout the campus including the PE shelter, basketball court re-striping, basketball court equipment upgrade; building window replacement, HVAC system replacement, and partial roof work.

Poinciana Park Elementary, $2.9 million: Includes a covered walkway, play court resurfacing, fence repair, sanitary sewerage replacement, repair/replacement of fire alarms, security alarms, flooring, ceiling, kitchen HVAC system, exhaust hood and stage curtain, electrical upgrades and repair.

Richmond Heights Middle, $4.3 million: Includes campus-wide HVAC system upgrades, unit ventilators, air-handling units, rooftop units electrical upgrades, replacement of existing light fixtures in stairways, and of the main electrical distribution panel and panel board.

Southwest Miami Senior, $16.3 million: Includes campus-wide window replacement, restroom renovations and installation of a parent drop-off area. Additionally, there are improvements throughout to cooling towers, electrical, lighting, drainage, refinishing and interior/exterior paint. New AHU, chiller and cooling tower in gymnasium.

Sunset Elementary Phase I of II, $2.9 million: Includes renovation of classrooms, student restrooms, window, flooring, lighting, interior paint and HVAC replacement, a new clinic, a new kitchen HVAC system, and exterior paint in Buildings 2 and 3.

Nathan B. Young Elementary, $4.2 million: Includes selective window replacement, interior and exterior painting, door replacement, single and student restroom ADA renovations, new cameras, new HVAC system in kitchen, and teacher’s lounge.

About the Authors:

Alex Finnie joined the Local 10 News team in May 2018. South Florida is home! She was raised in Miami and attended the Cushman School and New World School of the Arts for high school.