MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As the number of coronavirus cases grows throughout South Florida and South Florida schools, the United Teachers of Dade said it is alarmed by some new developments at Miami Senior High School.
The UTD said they were informed Tuesday that about 200 students and 17 teachers at the school had to isolate due to potential exposure to COVID-19.
The union received the information from building stewards, which are UTD representatives in the schools.
“We’re trying to shove thousands of kids into school and hope that, although they’re asymptomatic, that it won’t spread,” said Karla Hernandez-Mats, UTD President. “Unfortunately, what we do know, is it does spread, and it spreads very quickly. We are seeing that our schools are being quarantined, classes are being quarantined and we continue to close and reopen schools.”
While Miami-Dade Public Schools could not comment on the specific number of people in quarantine, a Miami-Dade Schools spokesperson explained it is done as a precaution.
MDCPS’ communications office outlined the process.
A student either self-reports or the Florida Department of Health reports the case to the school.
The District School Health Office works with the Florida Department of Health to contact trace. They would determine if the student plays a sport or rides the bus, for example, and then notify those who were in contact with the student. Then, they have to quarantine for 14 days.
Miami-Dade Public Schools Office of Communications released this statement:
“The District COVID-19 Dashboard is not intended to be a real-time system for tracking self-reported employee and confirmed student cases. Families and employees should not rely on the dashboard to learn about cases in their school or worksite. They will be notified of self-reported cases at their school or worksite well ahead of that information being populated onto the dashboard.”
To put this in perspective, if one student tests positive, and they have six school periods a day with 20 kids in each, that is already 120 students that will have to quarantine.
The Miami-Dade County Public Schools COVID-19 Dashboard, shows Miami Senior High and Kendale Lakes Elementary, both have 8 cases, the most on the dashboard.
Coral Reef Senior High and Miami Lakes K-8 Center both have 7 cases. North Miami Senior High has 6. Henry E.S. Reeves K-8 Center has 5 and so does John A. Ferguson Senior High.
Other schools on the list have 4 or less.
The dashboard shows there are a total of 251 cases in Miami-Dade Public schools; 74 employees and 177 students who have contracted the virus since Oct. 5.
Twenty-five of those new student cases were added to the dashboard Monday, October 26.
However, Miami-Dade Public Schools sa, “No student case is considered confirmed until the District receives official FDOH verification of a positive test result; and it is at that time that their cases are updated on the dashboard. Additionally, in accordance with Board policy, all M-DCPS employees must self-report a positive COVID test result.”
Hernandez-Mats blames the increase in cases to a lack of leadership from the Trump administration and from Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“When you turn this political and you say that you don’t need to wear masks or that you do or that social distancing is not important or that you need to reopen things, a lot of parents are getting inconsistent messages. These inconsistent messages are causing our students to put their guards down and not take personal responsibility when they’re outside the school. When that happens, you bring the virus into the school and it creates these outbreaks.”
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Miami Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho has previously said with children returning to school, it was almost inevitable that there would be cases. He said the district and the schools are doing everything they can to keep students safe.
In addition, an independent doctor told CBS4 last week that Miami-Dade Public Schools were doing an excellent job protecting students.
Carvalho reminds parents to check their children every morning for symptoms and reminds employees to fill out their self-assessment health tests every single day.
School officials are notifying parents in schools with positive cases with robocalls and reaching out to parents of children who may have come into contact with those who tested positive for the virus.
In Broward County, the school district’s COVID-19 dashboard shows there have been 149 total cases, 74 students and 51 staff, in the last 30 days, impacting 93 sites. This database is updated twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Western High School has the highest number with seven student cases and Tradewinds Elementary has 4 student cases and 1 employee.
There is also a statewide dashboard from the Florida Department of Health, but the total number of cases on both dashboards don’t match. According to a Miami-Dade County Public Schools spokesperson, the reason they don’t match is because the schools dashboard only shows the students and employees who are attending in-person classes and not virtual learning, while the state dashboard includes all employees and students, whether they are at home or going to school.