Miami-Dade County Public Schools is surveying families about their technology needs in case the district has to close some or all campuses because of an outbreak of the coronavirus, a potential emergency that could force students to continue their classwork online at home.
The district has more than 200,000 devices available to be loaned out to students, according to Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. That’s not enough equipment for all 345,000 students in the district. Through the survey, the district hopes to determine which students need devices or internet connectivity and which ones already have it at home, in order to make decisions about where to deploy resources.
"Enabled by a bond referendum that goes back to 2012, we have acquired in excess of 200,000 personal devices — laptop computers, tablets, smart telephones with large screens. A lot of these devices are empowered with connectivity to be provided to students should they not have connectivity at home," Carvalho said.
The district also has digital content available to students in all subjects, according to a newly published plan for "instructional continuity" should an emergency close schools.
"It's not ideal, but it's certainly better than just having students idle, possibly for days on end," Carvalho said.
Some school districts in South Florida have issued warnings to families who are planning on traveling during the upcoming spring break, which is March 16-20 in Monroe County and March 23-27 in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.
“In a typical school year, many families travel during spring break. In light of these world events, we are asking students and families to consider changing travel plans to any of the affected countries for the remainder of the school year,” Miami-Dade district officials wrote in a letter to parents on March 6.
The Miami-Dade and Broward districts have asked staff and students who have traveled to high-risk countries including China, South Korea, Italy and Iran to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return, in hopes of reducing the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
Local colleges and universities have also asked students to avoid affected areas during spring break trips, and some have canceled study abroad programs.
Find the latest information specific to the following school districts, colleges and universities at the links below:
NPR contributed reporting to this story.
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