MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The President of the United Teachers of Dade is applauding the latest decision by Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho who is saying that schools will not reopen for classes until the county is in Phase 2 of the coronavirus reopening plan.

UTD President Karla Hernandez-Mats also told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that she expects the county to still be in Phase 1 on August 24th when the school year is set to resume and she feels that means that classes will be online. She said she expects to know for sure by August 17th and what state health experts recommend in the weeks beforehand will be a vital factor in the final decision.

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Hernandez-Mats said after the decision made by Carvalho, “I am very proud of him saying that. That is what a true leader does and he’s taking a stand despite the political pressures and the political agendas that exist. We know that at the end of the day we have to do what is right for the health and well being of our students and of course those taking care of children. We know there will be regression but I would much rather take educational regression that losing the life of my child or losing the life of a loved one in my family.”

Hernandez-Mats represents nearly 20,000 teachers in the nation’s 4th largest school district that has 350,000 students.

Carvalho told a nationwide audience on CNN that “I will not reopen our school system August 24th if the conditions are what they are today. Our reopening plan contemplates Phase 2 as a reality. We are still in Phase 1, a phase that has degraded since over the last few weeks.”

On July 1st, Miami-Dade schools approved a plan involving in person, online and hybrid courses contingent upon the county being in Phase 2.

Molly Winters Dialo, a teacher at Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Senior High School, said she too favors online learning right now.

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“I am really grateful to the school district for taking all the necessary precautions,” she said. “We really need to make sure we are careful for everyone’s safety and well being particularly in situations where the health and well being can be compromised. We have to stay online if we are in Phase 1 and the numbers continue to rise in Miami-Dade County. It’s a concern with everyone going back to class and exposing everyone. I am also the parent of an 8-year-old daughter and I am want to be sure she is safe when being back there.”

She said these have been challenging times.

“There definitely is a lot of stress among my colleagues and we are concerned about what the future holds with everyone and our classrooms,” she said. “Ideally the pandemic will end and we will be back to normal but that is not the situation right now.”

The situation was also addressed in front of a nationwide audience on CNN on Wednesday when Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez said “They are talking about opening schools and yet tomorrow, today is the last day for restaurants to be open so how can you be talking about opening schools and closing restaurants. That’s the confusion and misinformation that is causing problems.”

The Miami-Dade School Board had unanimously approved a plan on July 1st for in-person, online, and hybrid courses contingent upon the county being in Phase 2. Schools were closed on March 13th.

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Carvalho also told CNN, “We have innovative models now where kids do not need to come to school and get an education. In the last quarter, we demonstrated how effective that can be by continuing the remote education.”

Peter D'Oench