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Monroe County Taking Three-Dimensional Approach To Reopening Schools

Nancy Klingener
Whether, and how many, students return to classrooms in Monroe County will depend on the coronavirus conditions at the time.

The new school year in the Keys could happen three different ways, depending on what's happening with the coronavirus.

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That's the plan from a group that included Monroe County school district staff, health officials and members of the community.

It all depends on the status of COVID-19 in the community.

During "minimal" community exposure, with isolated cases and limited community transmission of the disease, all students would return to school — except for those whose parents choose to keep them home and enrolled in virtual classes.

The students at school will be kept in cohorts, groups that stay together throughout the school day and schedules will be developed that "allow for the minimal amount of student movement, and safe movement of students when necessary," according to the district.

Meal times may be staggered and students could be fed in classrooms, depending on the cafeteria operations at each school.

The second scenario envisions "sustained transmission with likelihood or confirmed exposure and potential for rapid increase in cases." In that phase, students in pre-K through fifth grades would attend class at school every day.

Older kids — grades 6-12 — would attend school on campus on alternating days, with virtual school when they're home.

If there is "large-scale community transmission," school buildings will be closed again like they were this past spring and all students will attend full-time virtual school. Meals will be prepared and delivered by school buses to places throughout the Keys where families can pick them up.

The plan is a "working document" that could change before school starts again Aug. 13. Information will be posted at the district website and social media accounts. The district plans to set up a phone number where those who don't have online access can get information. For emergency information, it plans to use the automated phone messaging system to reach parents.

Anyone who is on campus will be required to wear a mask at all times when social distancing is impossible. That includes when walking between classes, on school buses and at any meetings or events where people are close to one another.