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The latest updates on the COVID-19 outbreak in South Florida.

'The Right Conditions Need To Be In Place': Miami-Dade Schools In Standstill On Reopening Plans

Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho
Daniel Bock
/
For the Miami Herald

Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho provided an update on the reopening process at Wednesday's school board meeting. With the official start date about five weeks away, Carvalho said there’s still time to decide.

“We are in the position to continue to analyze the local health data, continue to observe the trends, and then at the appropriate time, with sufficient time to inform parents, announce to the community the way forward.

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He said the Aug. 24 start date will also give the district time to observe how other counties, such as Broward and Palm Beach, handle reopening schools a week or two earlier.

He highlighted that the established plan, which was approved at the beginning of this month, gave the district flexibility, allowing them to pivot if necessary. 

Carvalho had previously said that in-person learning depended on the county being in phase two of the reopening process. At Wednesday's meeting, he presented eight additional metrics that would guide the county and school district. These metrics were established Tuesday at a meeting with medical and public health experts. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez also attended. 

The eight metrics are:

  • A sustained COVID-19 positivity rate at 10 percent, trending down to 5 percent, over 14 days.
  • A steady reduction of the number of individuals hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days.
  • A sustained reduction in ICU occupancy due to COVID-19 for 14 days.
  • A continuous reduced viral burden (decrease in the total number of positive individuals) for 14 days.
  • An increase in the availability of viral COVID-19 testing with a decrease in wait time.
  • A decreased response time for test results to less than 48 hours.
  • An increase in quantity and quality of contact tracing.
  • An increase in general vaccinations for school-aged children, as many have not been able to get vaccinated due to the pandemic, according to Carvalho.

As of right now, the criteria for reopening is not met.
“It is obvious to all of us, if the opening of schools was tomorrow and the conditions are what they are today, there is no one in the medical field, in the public health field, that would recommend schools open at full capacity,” Carvalho said.

He also presented preliminary data from a parent survey on the preferred learning model. The survey officially closed Wednesday night. Out of the more than 206,000 responses received at the time of the meeting, Carvalho said about 50 percent were in favor of in-person learning if the county’s health guidelines are met. About 49 percent of respondents preferred a virtual option. 

Parents should expect an announcement by the end of the month on how their preferred learning model will be accommodated. 

Carvalho also said that pushing back the start date could be an option, as it is allowed by the state. However, he emphasized that schooling will begin at the end of August, regardless of the format.

“The right conditions need to be in place for us to exercise all of the options that have been made available to the parents.”