Following state’s lead, Miami-Dade public school district preparing best practices to return children to school
Educators and other key officials working on how to safely reopen K-12 schools in Florida considered the possibility on Friday that it may not be safe to reopen schools right away.
“We need to be able to consider alternative calendars. It might not be possible for students to begin in August,” said Carol Cleaver, an educator from Escambia County, one of a group of educators, lawmakers, school board members and others who participated in a K-12 committee on reopening schools.
The committee was launched by the Florida Education Association and the United Faculty of Florida and held its last meeting on May 29.
Committee members stressed that funding is a necessary component of the plans to keep students and staff safe in the new academic year.
Schools will need ample personal protective equipment for students and teachers, and more staff and faculty, including trained substitute teachers, school psychologists and additional counselors to provide emotional support for students as well as teachers.
While Miami-Dade County Public Schools is fully prepared for a regular 2020-2021 school year, the district is also actively preparing for a host of contingency plans for reopening, said Alberto M. Carvalho, superintendent of M-DCPS.
“The district is currently convening a work group, which will be composed primarily of education and public health experts, to assist in gathering input and formulating recommendations for reopening school,” he said in a press release, adding that flexibility will be essential as things may change depending on how the pandemic evolves.
Contingency Plans for Reopening Schools. The District is currently convening a work group, which will be composed primarily of education and public health experts, to assist in gathering input and formulating recommendations for reopening schools, with the understanding that these plans may change depending on how the pandemic evolves.
The district’s work group will review:
• Density reduction and operational design efficiencies of schools to maximize social distancing in the use of gymnasiums, cafeterias, and other large common areas.
• Transportation modifications for bus routes to allow for social distancing.
• Hybrid/blended learning models that account for the likely preference of some parents to continue distance learning once schools reopen.
• Protocols for wellness, health screenings and health reporting that address everything from the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for students and staff to enhanced social, emotional and mental health support for students.
• Establishment of M-DCPS Chief Health Officer to manage school reopening contingency plans and overall district health protocols.
The district will present the findings and recommendations of the work group to the School Board later this month.
Parts of this story appeared on the website of the Florida Phoenix, a nonprofit news organization dedicated to coverage of state government and politics from Tallahassee. You can visit them by clicking here