By Karli Barnett

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Just days after amending their back to school plan, Miami-Dade schools may have to go back to the drawing board – quickly.

A letter from the education commissioner of Florida to the Miami-Dade School Board suggests they need to come up with a strategy to get students who want to go back to class back in schools by Oct. 5.

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After nearly a day and a half of deliberation, with about 18 hours of public comment, the Miami-Dade School Board ultimately voted Sept. 22 to push back the proposed start date for in-person learning.

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said it would be sometime between Oct. 14 and Oct. 21.

However, Richard Corcoran, the state Education Commissioner, says that is too late. In a letter addressed to Superintendent Carvalho and Board Chair Perla Tabares-Hantman, he says parents need to be given the option to return their children to in-person learning by October 5, noting the county has been in “phase 2” of reopening for two weeks.

In the letter, he says:

“As you know, the emergency order gives school districts guaranteed funding at levels beyond what would otherwise be available in order to empower school districts to meet the diverse needs of students and families during the COVID 19 Pandemic.”

Originally, Miami-Dade schools were going to return in phases on the dates of Sept. 30, Oct. 5, and Oct. 7.

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That changed, though, after outcry from teachers and parents.

Corcoran says for any school that will not be open for in-person instruction by Oct. 5, they will need a whole new proposal by Oct. 2.

The information would need to cover details such as student capacity at a particular school, the number of students, who requested in-person learning, and the number of students they can realistically accommodate with safety measures in place.

“Superintendents and their teams must roll up their sleeves and go school-by-school, grade-by-grade, and classroom-by-classroom to thoughtfully determine how parents that desire in-person for their children can be accommodated,” Corcoran says.

In response, Miami Dade schools issued a statement that reads in part:

“The District was prepared to launch Stage II of our reopening plan, under the adjusted timeline proffered and unanimously approved by the School Board last week. However, M-DCPS will not be announcing return dates until all implications and concerns outlined in the recently received communication have been assessed and direction from the Board has been received.”

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A school board meeting is scheduled for next week.

Karli Barnett