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Miami Dade College Closes Medical Campus Over COVID-19, But Other Campuses Open Despite Pushback

Miami Herald file
Miami Dade College is continuing to hold classes on its campuses, despite a move by universities to hold instruction remotely.

Miami Dade College is closing its medical campus indefinitely after discovering that a visitor who attended a recent event there has tested positive for the coronavirus disease COVID-19, the school announced Thursday afternoon.

The medical campus is located at 950 NW 2oth St. in Miami, near Jackson Memorial Hospital. The college has also canceled events at all of its campuses.

Most classes at other MDC campuses, though, are continuing as regularly scheduled. The state mandate requiring public universitiesto transition temporarily to online instruction doesn’t apply to public colleges. The universities are overseen by the State University System, a separate agency from the state Department of Education, which governs the Florida College System.

Local students are questioning why Miami Dade and Broward colleges are still holding in-person classes given the continuing spread of the coronavirus. In contrast, the College of the Florida Keys, which is also part of the state college system, has announced its plans to utilize online instruction until at least April 6.

Many Miami Dade and Broward college students began sounding off on social media after Florida’s 12 public universities announced that classes would be held remotely for at least two weeks.

Andrew Acevedo, a second-year music business major at Miami Dade College, argued the difference in how universities and colleges are handling the crisis is “classist,” because students at the state’s community colleges are more likely to come from low-income background.

Acevedo, who uses the pronoun they, has asthma and is worried they could be more at risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19 because of their underlying health conditions.

Miami Dade College “did send out an email regarding a survey for internet access outside of school, so that could be a first step,” Acevedo said, “but I don’t think it’s fast enough. My concern going forward is that Miami Dade won’t act fast enough … and [could] potentially expose their students to the coronavirus.”

A Miami Dade College spokesperson said the survey sent out by administrators to assess students’ technology access is part of the college’s preparations for a potential shift to online instruction, should there be a directive from the state to do so.

The Department of Education has instructed colleges to halt any out-of-state travel by plane but has not required any changes to class schedules. A spokesperson for the agency did not immediately respond to a request for an explanation regarding the decision.

Jessica Bakeman is Director of Enterprise Journalism at WLRN News, and she is the former senior news editor and education reporter. Her 2021 project "Class of COVID-19" won a national Edward R. Murrow Award.
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