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Coronavirus Live Updates: State Education Commissioner Orders Miami-Dade Schools To Fully Open By Oct. 5, Board To Meet Tuesday

Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus

This post will be updated today, Friday, Sept. 25, and through the weekend 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.

The dedicated website from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can be found here.

To receive WLRN's coronavirus updates newsletter on Wednesdays and Saturdays, sign up here.


State To Miami-Dade Schools: Reopen By Oct. 5 Or Prove Exceptions

Updated Sunday at 9 a.m.

Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran wrote a letter to Miami-Dade County Public Schools calling for schools to be fully open by Oct. 5 or ask for exemptions on a school-by-school basis.

The School Board on Friday morning received Corcoran’s three-page letter, which was addressed to Superintendent Alberto Carvalho and board Chair Perla Tabares Hantman. He begins the letter by expressing “grave concerns” about the board’s Monday vote for a delayed start to a soft and conditional opening of schools Oct. 14 with all schools opening for those who wish to return to the schoolhouse on Oct. 21.

The School Board will meet Tuesday at 1 p.m. for a special meeting held in person at the school district’s downtown headquarters to discuss next steps. A memo sent by Carvalho to the board said an agenda will be available by 1 p.m. Sunday.

Read more from our news partner the Miami Herald.

-Colleen Wright/Miami Herald

Miami Dade College Launches Contact Tracing Site Ahead Of Reopening

Updated Friday at 3:15 p.m.

Miami Dade College will begin a phased reopening of in-person instruction at all eight campuses next week. And ahead of that return to campus, the college released information on a contact tracing effort and self-reporting website where students, faculty, staff and vendors can report their COVID-19 status.

Students can access the self-reporting site by visiting the college's coronavirus site or through the school's My MDC app. For faculty, staff, vendors and employees the site is the only option.

The school also detailed the information a person should share when self-reporting a positive COVID-19 test, which includes:

  • The date that they got their confirmed positive test
  • Where they've been on campus
  • Names of any college-affiliated people they may have come into contact with

The site will include a "Recovery" section that will advise the person to consult their doctor, or a healthcare professional, and spell out a timeline for when they can return to campus.

Information shared on the site, according to the college, will also be used to help contact people who might have been exposed and will guide plans for cleaning campus — depending on where potential exposure to the virus was reported.

The reporting protocol is essentially the same for someone who was exposed to a person who tested positive for COVID-19, the only difference is they have to report the date that they had their most recent contact with that person.

Miami Dade College is joining other local universities like the University of Miami and Florida International University in a phased reopening of campus and, in a video message, FIU provost and executive vice president Lenore Rodicio said the school recognized that there are still concerned staffers and students.

"While there are many students and faculty who have indicated an interest to resume face-to-face instruction, we also understand that there are many who are still concerned about returning, especially those of you who fall into a vulnerable category or care for a vulnerable individual," Rodicio said.

She added that employees should contact their supervisor or human resources if they have concerns, and students should reach out to the professor and adviser — if they haven't already — to make remote learning arrangements.

Watch Rodicio's full message below.

— WLRN News

Statewide Coronavirus Cases Increase By 2,847, Resident Death Toll Reaches 13,795

Updated Friday at 11:45 a.m.

Florida surpassed 690,000 positive cases of COVID-19 as Florida’s Department of Health confirmed an additional 2,847 cases of COVID-19 on Friday.

Florida now has a total of 695,887 confirmed positive cases, according to the state's health department.

Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Broward counties make up 851 of the newly reported cases. Monroe County only added 11 cases overall.

Friday’s update also included the announcement of 120 new resident deaths, increasing the statewide number of Floridians who died to 13,915.

— By WLRN News

Palm Beach County Schools Report First COVID-Positive Students

Updated Friday at 6:40 a.m.

Four days after the county’s campuses re-opened, Palm Beach County public schools have reported the first two student cases of COVID-19.

A student at Palm Beach Gardens High and another at Citrus Cove Elementary in suburban Boynton Beach were confirmed by the Health Department in the county on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, before landing on the school district’s COVID dashboard Thursday morning, district officials said.

Their diagnoses triggered contact tracing by the health department, which is charged with contacting the parents of students who are deemed to have been in direct contact with the COVID-positive students, be it on the bus, in a classroom or elsewhere on campus. The school district’s Risk Management office alerts any staff affected, the district said.

Read more from our news partner at the Palm Beach Post.

— By Sonja Isger/ The Palm Beach Post

Bars Will Be Allowed To Open Oct. 5 In Palm Beach County; Restaurant Curfew Will Be Lifted

Updated Friday at 6:32 a.m.

After months of waiting and watching other businesses reopen, bars in Palm Beach County will finally get their turn on Oct. 5.

The county joined Broward and Miami-Dade counties two weeks ago in keeping bars closed even though the state had allowed bars to reopen across the rest of Florida.

Now, speeding up its timeline for reopenings, Palm Beach County decided to let them reopen at half-capacity on Oct. 5, in addition to allowing hookah and smoking bars to also reopen at 50% capacity on the same date, the county said Thursday. The county acknowledged it was reopening “venues earlier than previously contemplated," after the region saw a downward trend in the infection rate.

Read more from our news partner at the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

— By Wells Dusenbury / The South Florida Sun Sentinel