Emergency MDCPS School Board Meeting Results in In-Person Learning Starting Oct. 5


Natalie Abrahantes

The MDCPS emergency school board meeting on Sept. 29 resulted in the surprising announcement that in-person learning will be returning as soon as Oct. 5.

Massimo Aguila, Staff Writer

The Miami Dade County School Board held an emergency meeting on Sept. 29, following state pressures to open up schools on Oct. 5 instead of the previously determined Oct .14. The emergency meeting was held after Florida’s Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran’s request to open up schools on the earlier date. This back-and-forth decision making left parents and students wondering what would happen. This past Monday, the school board reversed their decision and Miami-Dade County Public Schools will resume in-person learning on Oct. 5, with a staggered approach.

In any normal year, the school board would meet in person once a month on Wednesdays to discuss and resolve any pending issues. However, this emergency meeting was the first in-person meeting the board held this school year due to the urgency of the subject matter. Following Ron DeSantis’s Phase 3 Executive Order, the school board received pressure from the state to meet again and to reconsider the original plan and it’s later start date for schools. The meeting was held at the School Board Administration Building in the city of Miami as they are usually hosted. The nine school board members, along with Superintendent Carvalho, were present. Together they discussed possible ways to secure the later opening of schools and aimed to address Commissioner Corcoran’s concerns of opening up later.

“I’m against the idea of reopening up schools so soon because schools are not gonna be what they were before having to conform with CDC standards like social distancing. We should focus on improving the online school experience until COVID is further under control in order to better prevent another outbreak,” sophomore Diego Gomez said.

Previously, on Sept. 21, the School Board unanimously decided to reopen with a staggered return to school starting Oct. 14 and Oct. 21. Board members were considering an earlier return, but after listening to over 700 emails and voicemails of mostly teachers and parents voicing their concerns over an earlier start time, they all agreed to the Oct.14 staggered reopening.

Immediately after the decision was announced, superintendent Alberto Carvalho said, “I think the board listened carefully to the input from the community for hours from hundreds of teachers who expressed, many of the concerns, over health conditions in our community.” His remarks were met with a positive response from teachers and parents alike.

In an attempt to overturn the decision of the school board, the concern over possible losses of millions of dollars in federal funding was raised. Board members were worried since the Florida Education Commissioner threatened to withhold funding for counties that did not open up schools by Oct. 5. This announcement ended up playing a large factor in the decision making of this most recent meeting, as board members wanted to preserve said funds. However, other counties such as Palm Beach and Broward County decided to continue with the Oct. 14 reopening since the COVID-19 spikes in their area made them an exception to Corcoran’s funding threats.

In response to these concerns regarding the spread of COVID-19 in schools, Governor Ron DeSantis said, “If you have that student who starts developing symptoms, they can be obviously taken out, they can be given this test, and then we’ll know within 15 minutes whether it’s COVID or not.” He also cited Centers for Disease Control studies that suggest schools be reopened for the well-being of students, not only academically but for the benefit of those with complicated home environments.

“In my opinion, I think it was right on time for them to open up school. Everyone was getting bored and tired of staring at a screen all day and most of them didn’t even pay attention to class. So I think it should’ve happened sooner, but I’m glad the decision to go back was made,” sophomore Justin Bohanan said.

Parents, teachers and students are all watching closely to see what will happen next with the decisions made by the school board. As of now, schools are set to have a staggered reopening on Oct. 5 and Oct. 9 for all students who have opted to be physically present for classes on campuses. With a Teacher Planning Day set for Friday, Oct. 2, teachers prepare for the upcoming transition right around the corner.