Overcrowded classrooms making social distancing difficult causing concern among teachers, parents

Back to school season is in full effect in South Florida and some classes may be more crowded than usual.

MIAMI – Back to school season is in full effect in South Florida and some classes may be more crowded than usual.

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic hitting another surge, it’s causing big concern for social distancing.

Some teachers reported getting class rosters over the weekend with more than 50 students on them.

School districts are still calculating and configuring who is in classrooms, which happens every year, but now, for the first time, they also have to consider social distancing.

“That is a challenge,” said Dr. Steve Gallon with the Miami-Dade School Board. “I’ve heard some feedback from teachers about class rosters they received.”

Teachers’ reps in both Broward and Miami-Dade expressed concern Monday over the ability to social distance in crowded classrooms, another reason both are thankful for mandatory mask policies.

“That’s the biggest concern is not being able to manage to three feet, let alone six feet,” said Broward Teachers Union President Anna Fusco.

Miami-Dade Schools signed off on eight pages of protocols on Sunday. Among them, schools must arrange desks to promote distancing, which may be tough until class numbers even out.

Even then, some may go beyond class size caps because schools can use the building’s averages instead of per class counts.

“They can average it out among several grade levels to be able to fill one with more, than one with less,” said Fusco. “It’s an unfortunate loophole.”

Districts have other ways to get around the small class size.

Florida voters put in the state constitution 20 years ago that magnet schools are exempt, like Shenandoah Middle, as are schools of choice, and almost all Miami-Dade and Broward schools are listed as schools of choice.

“I believe all teachers and parents will take precautions with their kids,” said parent Deseria Nealy.

About the Author:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."