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Carvalho reports 350K students returned to Miami-Dade schools with face masks

Only 2-3 parents complained about face mask mandate, Carvalho says

MIAMI – Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho said an excess of 350,000 students and about 18,000 teachers, including 300 new hires, returned to classrooms on Monday for their first day of the 2021-22 school year.

Carvalho said there were over 800 school buses in service and the 19 delays that exceeded 15 minutes were attributed to traffic or ongoing construction. The district is hiring 100 more school bus drivers. Carvalho said parents need to take advantage of the free breakfast and lunch at M-DCPS schools since only about 85,000 breakfasts were served on Monday.

M-DCPS reopened buildings with safety protocols — including a universal indoor face mask mandate during the surge in COVID cases. Students should not share a face mask, and the mask should not display obscene, profane, drug-related, gang-related, or inflammatory messages.

“No more than two or three parents had an issue specific to masks in school ... I believe that we had an extremely high level of compliance and understanding,” Carvalho said, later adding, “We do expect to receive a message from Tallahassee” regarding Gov. Ron DeSantis’ July 30 order to protect parents’ freedom.

Teachers are asking students to bring their own water bottles, avoid touching their faces and eyes, social distance, and avoid shared objects. Teachers are asking students to stay home if they are feeling sick, to wash their hands with soap and water frequently, and to sanitize their hands with 60% alcohol gel.

Carvalho said M-DCPS virtual academy had about 300 students enrolled some three weeks ago. On Monday, he said the virtual academy had an excess of 3,000 students enrolled and there are an additional 700 students whose parents are trying to enroll them.

“That is a huge increase over a very short period of time ... It will take a little bit of time to process those students, but we shall do it,” Carvalho said.

Carvalho said the district still has devices to help students who lack online connectivity. He also urged parents to ask teachers about their schools’ after-school programs and tutoring opportunities. Carvalho declared the first day of school “a resounding success.”

The school principals are accepting medical exemption applications to the face mask requirement in advance. For more information about back-to-school policies, call 305-995-3000 or visit the Back-to-School Parent Information site or participate in The Parent Academy.

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About the Authors:

Terrell Forney joined Local 10 News in October 2005 as a general assignment reporter. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but a desire to escape the harsh winters of the north brought him to South Florida.

Liane Morejon is an Emmy-winning reporter who joined the Local 10 News family in January 2010. Born and raised in Coral Gables, Liane has a unique perspective on covering news in her own backyard.