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Miami-Dade College Starts Classes Online, Pro Sports And Social Justice, Exile At Home During The Pandemic

Miami-Dade College is starting classes for the fall 2020 semester. NBA players are using their platform to highlight the Black Lives Matter movement. Plus, a new community archive wants to hear your story about staying home during the pandemic.

On this Tuesday, Sept. 1, episode of Sundial:

Miami-Dade College Starts Classes Online

Miami-Dade College, the largest community college system in the nation, is reopening its doors to students, faculty and staff today. Roughly 76,000 students are enrolled for this year, but many of those classes will be taken online for the time being.

The school’s reopening comes as colleges and universities across South Florida, and across the country, are working hard to slow the spread of COVID-19 on campus.

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Schools are also facing budget shortfalls and under-enrollment because of the pandemic. Miami-Dade has seen a 15 percent cut in enrollment compared to years past.

“So that you have an idea of how bad this is, every [percentage] point of enrollment decline represents $1.4 million,” said Dr. Rolando Montoya, the interim president of Miami-Dade College.

We spoke with Montoya about the college’s plans for the fall 2020 semester and beyond.

Pro Sports And Social Justice

The Miami Heat are on a winning streak. But for the players, this postseason is more than just about winning games. Players are using their platform to highlight the Black Lives Matter movement.

Last week, the Milwaukee Bucks refused to play Game 5 of their playoff series against Orlando to protest police brutality following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis.

Miami Heat swingman Andre Iguodala is playing a much bigger role off the court as the vice president of National Basketball Players Association.

“Us being able to accumulate that wealth and then being able to take it back to our communities and at the same time bringing the awareness, which is the main goal coming out here. Shedding a light, using this platform. You know, you’re seeing a lot of reactions to what we’ve been doing from other leagues and that shows a lot of power or a lot of influence that we’re having and using the influence in the right way,” said Iguodala on CBS Saturday.

As part of the decision to resume the NBA playoffs, the league and its players will work together on several initiatives in support of social justice and racial equality.

“The line between sports and politics is a messy one at best, but these individual athletes are still people,” said the Miami Herald’s deputy sports editor, John Devine.

In a conversation with Sundial, he added that the NBA is pushing to turn the AmericanAirlines Arena into a polling location for the 2020 election.

Exile At Home During The Pandemic

It’s been about six months since Florida shut down due to the spread of COVID-19. That’s six months of social distancing, isolation and mostly being home.

A new project called “Exile at Home” wants to know how you’ve been spending your time at home.

“It took every ounce of strength to create that video, but I'm glad I can provide an intimate glimpse into the times we are struggling through," said Melanie Futorian, who filmed a dance video from her bed while she was battling COVID-19.

Sick, Scared, Secluded by Melanie Futorian

We spoke with two folks leading the project: Miami Herald photojournalist and founder of the Iris Photo collective, Carl Juste, and Lissette Mendez, the programs director for the Miami Book Fair.

“Home is the place where you hug people. Home is where you pray with people. Home is where you share a meal with people. Home is a lot of things outside the boundaries of your physical house,” said Juste.

“What I want this project to be for many is that of this silence and this pause that we can redefine the things that are important to us — family, faith, even in our own mortality and even our sense of community."

You can share your story by sending in a photo, video or a written piece here. The deadline is Nov. 30.

Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the former lead producer behind Sundial. As a multimedia producer, she also worked on visual and digital storytelling.