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Miami-Dade Superintendent: Reopening Schools Before Summer ‘Not Only Unlikely But Imprudent’

C.M. Guerrero
Miami Herald File
On Wednesday, Miami-Dade schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho wrote on Twitter schools shouldn't reopen until the fall.

Add Alberto Carvalho to the list of South Florida superintendents who have admitted schools probably won’t reopen until the fall.

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In a previous statement, the Miami-Dade schools chief said students’ return to campuses likely wouldn't happen until “sometime in May.”

On Wednesday, Carvalho offered an updated prediction.

“A physical return to schools this year is not only unlikely but imprudent,” Carvalho tweeted.

His counterparts in Broward and Monroe counties have said for weeks they didn’t expect to reopen until next school year, if then. In Palm Beach County, the district has closed schools “until further notice.” That’s despite the state Department of Education’s current recommendation to shutter campuses through May 1.

Carvalho’s comments come after Gov. Ron DeSantis has waffled on the issue of school closures.

Under the DeSantis administration, the Florida Department of Education waited to recommend closing schools until after the Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach districts announced a coordinated closure. Initially, the state's position was to keep students home through mid-April. 

During a press conference on March 25, DeSantis wondered aloud whether the still-unknown effects of school closures on slowing the spread of the coronavirus would outweigh the stress they cause for working parents. A few days later, the state education department extended its recommendation, pushing for schools to remain closed through May 1.

And, once again, on April 9, DeSantis floated reopening. If it could be done safely, reconvening for even a couple of weeks of classes would help students and families, he argued. Teachers unions have since balked at the suggestion.

At a White House press conference the day after DeSantis' comments, a reporter asked Dr. Anthony Fauci to weigh in on the possibility of schools reopening in Florida. Fauci is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a leading voice nationally on the U.S. response to the pandemic.

“If you have a situation where you don’t have a real good control over an outbreak, and you allow children together, they will likely get infected,” Fauci said, according to POLITICO.

Carvalho then shared a news report on Fauci’s assessment that schools would be prepared to reopen in the fall, the superintendent implicitly offering his disagreement with DeSantis’ position: “Dr. Fauci answers one of the most often asked questions about school openings,” Carvalho wrote. “Let’s listen to the expert.”

Later, Carvalho shared a television news interview in which Roman Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan advised against reopening churches while the coronvirus continued to spread.

Carvalho wrote: “When should schools, churches, America open? Thank you Cardinal Dolan for trusting science and medical truths over political or personal opinions.”

Jessica Bakeman is senior editor for news at WLRN, South Florida's NPR member station. Previously, Bakeman served as WLRN's education reporter for four years. Bakeman was awarded the 2020 Journalist of the Year award from the Florida chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.