MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami-Dade public school students join the rest of South Florida “back to school” on Monday.

The challenges of remote learning have been tough on everyone. But Thursday night there are signs that this new normal is smoothing out some rough edges.

As Miami-Dade public schools get ready to embark on a virtual start to the year, Broward public schools are now a week in.

“The first day of school it was confusing. We were having technical difficulties getting in. But now we’ve all settled in and it’s easier,” said Kaylee Stedman, who is in 8th grade.

Stedman has been navigating the video conferencing app Microsoft Teams as well as the Canvas learning system.

Her mother said it’s gone much better than last semester.

“It’s been going smoothly and I think they’ve been doing a pretty good job so far,” Melanie Stedman said.

“Attendance was a major thing, because some students had trouble with their internet access,” said Waldo Jude Mirambeau, a Broward teacher.

He said his students have helped him to navigate the technology over the week, and they are making the best of it.

The best thing to do is to have as much practice as possible,” he says. “You can’t get enough practice using the technology, even if you’re just doing mock interviews or mock classrooms with your friends.”

In Miami-Dade schools, teachers have been training the last few days.

Richard Ocampo said they haven’t been able to prepare enough.

“I’ve heard from a lot of my coworkers who say it’s too much information to process and they don’t feel prepared to start next week,” he said. “They don’t know how to use the system very well, yet. Like I said, we don’t have access yet to our classes in our students we can’t really play with the system too much.”

One of the biggest hurdles was accessing curriculum and navigating the K12 system, the online platform they’re using. One teacher, who did not want to go on camera, describes a better experience.

“We have the system. The link was on our portals this morning. It’s super user friendly, now that we can actually play around with it… Should be ready for Monday now that we can schedule our classes and connect with our students.”

Broward Superintendent Robert Runcie reflects on an overall successful first week.

“It’s amazing how much better prepared our teachers are and how much energy and interaction can flow back-and-forth through e-learning,” he said.

Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said they are going to ease students and teachers into the process starting Monday.

“First week it relies on an introduction to online learning. It’s not really subject specific. So that every single teacher and every single student once again masters they know how and how to in the K12 platform,” he said.

Runcie said once they can get the positivity rate between 3 and 5% for 14 days, that’s when they will make plans to reopen. They are reevaluating after Labor Day.

Carvalho says if the positivity rate continues to move in the right direction, schools may be able to open for in-person learning, possibly, before the end of September.

To learn more about preparations for the new virtual year, parents can go to dadeschools.net.

Karli Barnett

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