MIAMI (CBSMiami) – After a day and a half long meeting, the Miami-Dade School Board has voted to push back the proposed date for the return of students to the classroom.

On Tuesday, the board voted to push the proposed return date for the first group of students to, at least, Oct. 14.

Everyone else would go back by Oct. 21.

The vote came after the board listened to 18 and a half hours of recorded public comment on whether schools should reopen so students can return to their classrooms.

Following the meeting, three teachers held signs outside district headquarters. They believe more time is needed.

“I’m really thankful for the school board listening to us. I don’t feel like it was enough. I feel like we needed more time.” Jennifer Maer said.

School districts are required by the state to offer in-person learning as an option.

Some parents told us they are concerned but students learn better in a classroom environment.

“They’re going to learn more and they’re going to earn faster. At home, it’s very complicated,” Barbara Weiss said.

“We surely want to have the classes with the teacher and with the other kids,” Javier Rojas said.

CBS4’s Brooke Shafer, who had been monitoring the meeting, said many of the speakers were overwhelmingly against reopening classrooms.

Some who left comments said the school district was not properly prepared, it would be “irresponsible” to send employees back without a plan, and the return should not be rushed.

Parents and teachers also expressed concern about aging ventilation systems in some schools.

“Our main building is 45 years old already and it has no windows. The air conditioning is down more often than not and the humidity gets and smells so bad that the paper curls on the corners and the tape comes off the walls,” said one person.

“It’s an old building. I only have one window and it will be a problem as far as ventilation goes,” said another.

During the start of the meeting on Monday, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho revealed his plan on getting students back into the classroom.

Under the superintendent’s original proposal, on September 30th, early childhood and students with special needs on a modified curriculum would return to get used to their new environments and routines. This would include PK, K, 1st grade, and ESE modified curriculum students for all grades.

The superintendent said the staggered return would allow schools to test social distancing protocols and adjust them if necessary.

“We are proposing one meter (of separation). Three feet, three inches maybe, more,” he said.

School Board member Maria Teresa Rojas said she didn’t think a three-foot distance was enough to stop the spread of droplets, but six was a better idea.

The superintendent said their plan is based on public health experts’ recommendations.

“Our plan relies on science. Our plan relies on the advice of public health and medical experts,” he added. “Our plan relies on the dynamic monitoring of local health conditions.”

Masks will be required and water fountains will be disconnected. Every school have will have bottled water available and water bottle filling stations may be a possibility.

Schools will be inspected daily and students will be able to keep their laptops, charging carts will be set up.

The superintendent has the final say on the start date but it will be no earlier than Oct. 14 and no later than Oct. 21.

Ty Russell

Comments