MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho is pleading with students and parents to stay vigilant in helping to curb the spread of COVID ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

He also announced a new partnership with the University of Miami that provides free rapid testing for the coronavirus for all students.

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The goal is to potentially roll out testing across the county as early as next week.

“This will be an opportunity for all students in Miami-Dade County Public Schools, those students that are in charter schools or private schools, to be tested in this partnership between Miami-Dade County Public Schools and the University of Miami’s Schools of Pediatric Medicine,” Carvalho said. “We hope to start it next week. We are in the final rounds of negotiations, and we’re going to try to make it as easy as possible for the communities by providing the administration of these rapid tests via mobile vans provided by the University of Miami.”

While 45% of the students in Miami-Dade County rely on in-person learning, the larger majority relies on online learning.

Concern had been growing that plans were being made to eventually move all students back to school despite the rising coronavirus cases in the state.

But Superintendent Carvalho said he doesn’t expect the online option to go away.

“I am heartened by the dialogue that is ongoing in Tallahassee as the commissioner of education was just asked by a state board commission member about the viability of the online option continuing into January and beyond. The commissioner assured the state board of education that will be a viable option,” he said. “Our plan is to continue what we currently have, which is a two model solution for learning. The My School Online which currently serves 55% of the student body, and the school house model which currently serves 45% of the students.

“This is simply putting a Band-Aid on it while cases are skyrocketing,” said Karla Hernandez-Mats, the president of the United Teachers of Dade.

She wants a stronger plan put in place and more action taken than just continuing the current system.

“We are doing our part to provide a quality education to all of our students but we are under a lot of stress,” she said.

According to the Miami-Dade County Public Schools dashboard, there are 676 positive coronavirus cases. There are 423 students and 253 employees who have tested positive for the virus since Oct. 5 when students returned to campuses and in-person instruction.

In the last 30 days, 343 students and 182 employees have contracted the virus.

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While cases are on the rise, the superintendent made his message clear. It is the community’s job to avoid infections by practicing safety and social distancing ahead of the holiday season.

“Ultimately, this rests with our community’s ability to exercise restraint, maintain social distancing, washing their hands, not congregating and wearing a mask,” he said.

Carvalho said, along with the in-person learning model, he hopes the online learning platform will receive the same funding going forward in order to provide parents and students with learning options that they feel will best suit their needs.

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In Broward County, the school district’s COVID-19 dashboard shows there have been 505 total cases, 252 students and 253 staff, since Oct. 9 when students returned to campuses and in-person instruction.

In the last 30 days, 222 students and 238 employees have contracted the virus.

Broward School Superintendent Robert Runcie addressed the concerns of rising COVID cases at a town hall Wednesday Night.

“The consensus is that there is nothing to suggest our schools are sources of transmission,” He said.

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About 25% of students have returned for in-person model in Broward.

Karli Barnett