Breaking News: School Board Decision on Return Date for Students

Katriona Page and Kate Markus

On Tuesday, Sept. 22, the Miami-Dade County Public Schools School Board voted to move the tentative in-person return date, Sept. 30, to no earlier than Oct. 14 and no later than Oct. 21. 

According to CBS News, the vote was unanimous made after the board listened to 18 and a half hours of comments and opinions from the public. 

In a “Twitter” statement, @MDCPS released the information regarding return dates.

Students whose parents selected to remain online for Stage II will still have that option, even after Oct. 21. 

The School Board’s decision deviates from MDCPS Superintendent Alberto Carvalho’s recommendation that students return to in-person schooling beginning Sept. 30. At a special board meeting held on Monday, Sept. 21, Carvalho proposed that pre-kindergarten through first grade students return Sept. 30; that grades two through six and nine through ten return Oct. 5 and that grades seven through eight and eleven through twelve return Oct. 7. 

However, after Carvalho’s recommendation, parents, teachers and administrators across the district raised concerns that the proposed dates were too early. Many objected to the lack of specific information about how health protocols — for example, social distancing guidelines — would be implemented. At today’s meeting, the Board emphasized that mask wearing would be strictly enforced.

The MDCPS school board members include: Steve Gallon III (Vice Chair, District one), Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall (District two), Martin Karp (District three), Perla Tabares Hantman (Chair, District four), Susie V. Castillo (District five), Mari Tere Rojas (District six), Lubby Navarro (District seven), Maria Perez (District eight) and Lawrence S. Feldman (District nine).  

The Board decided to keep the staggered approach, meaning that some grades — presumably pre-kindergarten and first grade — will still return earlier than others.

“The intent of this progressive staggered approach is to allow school sites to test their health and social distancing protocols and make necessary adjustments,” Carvalho said.

Carvahlo now agrees that his proposed dates were too soon, and supports the Board’s decision. MDCPS says they will release more information about reopening in the upcoming week.