Coronavirus Live Updates: Miami-Dade School Board Considers Reopening Schools Starting Next Week, Will Stream Public Comment Overnight
This post will be updated today, Monday, September 21, and through the week with the latest information on COVID-19 in South Florida.
WLRN staff continues to add to community resource lists, including this article on where kids and families can get food while schools are closed, and this post about whether and where to get tested for coronavirus.
The dedicated website for the Florida Department of Health, including information about symptoms and numbers of cases, can be found here.
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Miami-Dade School Board Considers Reopening Schools Starting Next Week, Will Stream Public Comment Overnight
Updated Monday at 5:45 p.m.
Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho is proposing a phased-in reopening of school buildings that would bring teachers and students back to campuses starting next week.
Carvalho presented the plan to the school board during an ongoing virtual meeting that began Monday morning: Teachers who will be leading in-person classes would come back to school buildings for planning days on Sept. 28 and 29.
The youngest students and those with disabilities would return to campuses on Sept. 30, allowing them more time to adjust to the changes.
Remaining elementary students and those in middle and high school “transition” grades would start taking in-person classes on Oct. 5. The rest of middle and high school students would be back two days later, on Oct. 7.
These changes would only apply to students who choose to return to in-person classes. Parents can opt to keep their students in online-only instruction.
The board is planning to vote on the proposal at about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday morning. That's after playing 18 hours of voicemails from community members who wanted to weigh in on the elected officials’ decision.
In a highly unusual move, the board decided not to adjourn the meeting, streaming the public comments continuously until tomorrow and then voting at the conclusion.
By doing that, the board circumnavigates a statutory requirement to advertise Tuesday's meeting — a central tenet of Florida's robust government-in-the-sunshine law.
While the comments play overnight, the stream is not showing feeds from the board members' cameras. It's not possible to know if they are listening, although some said they would.
Carvalho’s proposal is based, in part, on the fact that most of the district’s “gating criteria” have been met. Those are the health conditions necessary to open schools safely, as recommended by medical advisers. There is not yet a 48-hour turnaround time for COVID-19 testing, which was one of the criteria, but administrators are encouraged by the fact that test results are being returned in about three days.
Some other highlights of the reopening plan: Rapid testing sites will be set up for school district employees and their dependents. A public dashboard will be updated daily with school-specific case numbers. Both the testing sites and the dashboard will launch Sept. 28, according to Carvalho.
Watch the meeting here.
See Carvalho’s presentation on his proposal here and below.
—Jessica Bakeman/WLRN News
Monroe Closes Applications For Housing, Small Business Help
Updated Monday at 4:10 p.m.
Monroe County is no longer accepting applications for its business and housing assistance programs funded by money the county received under the federal CARES Act.
The business assistance program was a one-time fixed amount grant for Keys-based small businesses with up to 25 employees. The program opened on Sept. 4 with $1 million to allocate and the county received more than 500 applications, which will be granted on a first-eligible, first-served basis.
The rental and mortgage assistance program has $838,000 to allocate and opened Aug. 4. It received more than 250 applications.
According to the county, more funding may be available later.
— Nancy Klingener/WLRN News
City of Fort Lauderdale Employees Greeted Back At Work With Wearable Thermometers
Updated Monday at 2:30 p.m.
Fort Lauderdale city employees returned to their offices Monday, for the first time without having to alternate schedules to prevent the spread of COVID-19. And they were greeted with a new piece of jewelry: bracelet thermometers.
The bracelets take an employees temperature every 15 minutes, and respond with either a green, yellow or red light.
"That way we have some ability to know when people should be able to stay in the workplace, and when we might need to take some precautions and get people out of the workplace so that they can seek other medical attention," City Manager Chris Lagerbloom explained in a welcome video message for employees.
The city ordered 3,000 of the bracelet thermometers. They will be distributed by employees' supervisors over the next few days.
Previously, Fort Lauderdale employees had been alternating days remote and days spent at their offices. Starting today they are all back full-time.
— Caitie Switalski/WLRN News
Statewide Coronavirus Cases Increase By 1,685, Resident Death Toll Reaches 13,317
Updated Monday at 12:19 p.m.
Florida surpassed 680,000 positive cases of COVID-19 as Florida’s Department of Health confirmed an additional 1,685 cases of COVID-19 on Monday.
Florida now has a total of 685,439 confirmed positive cases, according to the state's health department.
Monday's update also included the announcement of 21 new resident deaths, increasing the statewide number of Floridians who died to 13,317.
— By WLRN News