COVID-19 Cases in Miami-Dade Schools Show Resurgence


Katherine Blanco

After students in Miami-Dade County returned to campus for in-person classes, some schools have reported an uptick in COVID-19 cases.

Sofia Cruz, News Editor

Although Miami Dade County Public Schools have already started their return to physical classes, it cannot be said with certainty that these institutions are entirely safe. In fact, in the past few weeks of reopenings, 80 schools have already reported instances of positive cases. As some schools are being closed again and others are sending students home, these cases are creating obstacles to Florida’s reopening, leaving many to wonder if physical classes will be able to continue.

The resurgence of cases at this local level has also highlighted the national rise in cases that has begun to reoccur in the United States.

On the very week of its reopening, William Lehman Elementary School was one of the first to announce that one of their in-person students had tested positive for COVID-19. Although the school did not close, the unnamed student was sent home to recover safely and prevent any spreading of the virus.

Health Department Officials stated that they did not contract the virus from the school, but the elementary still underwent deep cleaning procedures. Unfortunately, rather than being the outlier, Lehman Elementary was just the first of many reports of cases to come district-wide.

In the following days, the United Teachers of Dade announced that Holmes Elementary, Charles D. Wyche Elementary, Poinciana Park Elementary, South Dade Tech Elementary and South Point Elementary had also confirmed positive COVID-19 cases among the student body.

None of these schools shut down, but they too went through deep cleaning processes. They also reported rumors of one of the cases involving a student being sent to physical classes while their sibling was infected with the Coronavirus and staying home.

The quickly increasing cases did not just stop there, however. New cases in schools throughout the county are being reported on a daily basis.

I can not say I did not expect this. With so many people going back all at once, there is no way to ensure the safety of students. With such a quick return, I think the county was unprepared, so of course, kids ended up getting sick.

— sophomore Francesca Rico

By far, schools such as the Maritime and Science Technology Academy have had the most dire situations. MAST was shut down on Monday, Oct. 12 by Superintendent Carvalho after two students tested positive. Many wondered why more schools were not being closed, but MDCPS spokespeople have stated that since high schoolers move around, more contact tracing becomes more difficult, therefore they are prioritized for shutdowns while elementary schools are not.

However, since then, Coral Park Elementary joined MAST in being closed after three students and one employee were reported as having contracted the virus. Now, Divine Savior Lutheran Academy and Mesitva of Greater Miami in Miami Beach are leading the count, each having a grand total of six cases. Miami Senior High has also worried students and staff as positive cases were confirmed there and many students were sent home to quarantine.

These rises in cases are creating new concerns for students, teachers and parents alike. They are also not unique to Miami Dade.

In Broward County, more than 45 cases have been reported solely among staff. The state of Florida is also remaining a hotspot with the second most deaths in the country after Texas, at over 12,000 fatalities.

These reports are also aligning with the large-scale trend of cases starting to increase again throughout the United States, which is still the nation with the highest case count. Scientists are reporting that a second wave of COVID-19 may already be appearing in Europe, with a current count of 7.2 million cases.

“I am concerned that Gables already has positive cases. People do not know how to properly wear masks above their nose or even at all, and do not wash their hands enough. We are all touching doors, computers, desks and phones. The hallways are way too crowded and the one-way routes do not make sense. I do not exactly feel safe but I still go in search of motivation to do well in school,” sophomore Sidney Eramil said.

These growing concerns are largely being exacerbated by the fact that returns to physical schooling will continue, as many students are requesting to be switched out of My School Online. Coral Gables Senior High currently has 600 students on campus for in-person learning. However, within the next few weeks, staggered returns will be extended as 200 more students gradually return.

The first 60 will arrive on campus on Monday, Oct. 19, the following 60 will return the next Monday, and the remaining 120 are yet to be determined as they will stay on the waiting list until proper accommodations can be made.

Once positive cases are reported, the Health Department has to confirm them before listing them on the MDCPS dashboard. This limits the number of cases actually displayed on the official website, however, the dashboard has as of yet confirmed 29 employees and 19 students as being infected with COVID-19.

This resurgence is unfortunately reflecting itself in local communities and showing clearly in schools, prompting discussions as to whether or not students should return to virtual learning entirely.