Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) has concluded a successful first week of in-person schooling, which began on Monday, for those students whose families selected the Schoolhouse learning model. As of Friday, more than 120,000 students attended school and thousands of educators returned to the classroom. Students, families, teachers, support staff and administrators are to be commended for deftly adjusting to the new health protocols, which play a critically important role to keep schools safe. This week, tens of thousands of parents and employees across the community completed at-home health screenings, students and employees wore facial coverings, bus arrivals and parent dropoffs were staggered, and social distancing was maintained.
Nonetheless, M-DCPS has confirmed four positive cases of COVID-19 in four different schools. Preliminary information indicates that the virus was not contracted at the schools and established contact tracing procedures were followed, ensuring anyone who came into close contact with the individual at school or on a school bus, was immediately notified. The entire school community also received notification shortly after the confirmations. In addition, the schools were thoroughly sanitized prior to students and employees returning. M-DCPS remains committed to safeguarding the health and wellbeing of our students and employees.
Families are the first line of defense in preventing future COVID-19 cases in our schools. All parents are urged to complete a daily at-home health screening, which can be found at http://reopening.dadeschools.net and to keep their children home if they show any symptoms of illness. All M-DCPS employees are also required to complete a daily health screening before entering schools and district facilities.
The phased-in reopening began on Monday with Pre-K to 1st-grade, as well as students with special needs on a modified curriculum. On Wednesday, the remaining elementary students, as well as students in grades 6, 9, and 10 students returned to school campuses. Today, students in grades 7 and 8, 11 and 12 were welcomed back. Nearly half of M-DCPS students have elected to continue distance learning through My School Online (MSO).
School, region, and district-level personnelconducted numerous walkthroughs and provided several assurances related to the health and safety measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Best practices are being followed by both students and employees. The following are updates in particular areas of interest.
The District did not experience any widespread connectivity issues this week. Isolated incidents were quickly addressed. Microsystems technicians at school sites continue to provide students and teachers with the necessary support for typical technical issues, as they arise.
All M-DCPS school buses have been equipped with hand sanitizing stations and have reduced capacity to promote social distancing. The District’s fleet of more than 1,000 school buses began operating hundreds of transportation routes on Monday morning.
Schoolhouse students received breakfast and lunch meals free of charge and ate their meals following the specific plans developed by their individual schools. MSO students may continue picking up their meals on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at all schools across the District.
To ensure a rapid response to air conditioning or ventilation concerns, maintenance staff were pre-positioned across the district to quickly address any issues. Additionally, more than 1,100 portable air filtration systems were procured and deployed to schools, prioritizing those campuses without windows and those with Early Head Start and Head Start programs. The District also has installed 43,000 new air filters. Frequent and thorough sanitization protocols remain in effect. More on these efforts can be found in the M-DCPS Reopen Smart, Return Safe reopening guide at http://reopening.dadeschools.net.
To ensure all stakeholders remained informed, the District continued its multi-pronged approach to communicate expectations for a physical return to the schoolhouse. The District continually updates its it dedicated schools reopening page, http://reopening.dadeschools.net, including the addition of schoolhouse-specific questions in the Frequently Asked Questions section. A Back-to-Schoolhouse checklist was also developed and disseminated to families in multiple languages through automated messaging. Information related to what parents and students could expect upon returning to the schoolhouse, including guidance for the pre-arrival health screening parents are to perform on their children before sending them to school each morning, was also shared via email, social media, and the District’s regularly scheduled radio programming. Interviews via radio and television also provided additional outlets to disseminate information. School-specific communications via telephone, email, text messaging and social media were also disseminated
The General Support Help Desk (305-995-3000) remains available to take calls from students, parents, employees and community stakeholders, and the Distance Learning Help Desk (305-995-HELP) continues to assist students, parents and teachers with questions related to MSO.
For the most up-to-date information, please download the Dadeschools mobile app to your iPhone or Android device. Follow us on Twitter @mdcps and @miamisup, on Instagram @miamischools and @miamisup, and on Facebook at MiamiSchools and AlbertoCarvalho
# # #