Back to school, but where? Part 1

Will Miami-Dade students head back to school next month? Gov. Ron DeSantis says yes, but Miami-Dade superintendent Alberto Carvalho has said only if the numbers of coronavirus-infected decrease.

One possible solution: a hybrid of distance learning and physical classes.

M-DCPS asked parents who have children enrolled in grades K-12 to complete a survey on the topic to help make the decision.

“I don’t think that opening the schools back up right now is a good idea,” said Adrian Romero, a parent of a middle schooler. “I know my child has good hygiene, but how can I be so sure about the other kids that are around her? I don’t feel comfortable and think she should just stay home and continue doing her classes on the computer.”

Cathy Stewart, a kindergarten teacher at Ruth K. Broad K-8 Center in Bay Harbor Islands is also unsure.

“It would be so much easier for me to be able to stand in front of a classroom and teach again,” she said. “But right now I don’t see that happening. There are too many worries that not just teachers have, but parents do as well. I just don’t think now is the time.”

In February, the school district released its calendar for the 2020-2021 school year. Although the start date shown is August 24, it may no longer be accurate due to the rising rates of COVID-19, Miami-Dade County has the highest numbers of cases in Florida, but not all residents have mixed feelings regarding schools reopening.

2020-2021 school year calendar (Courtesy of @M-DCPS/Twitter)

“Please let the schools open, I am so tired of sitting on a computer every day,” said Jesse Soto, a high school student at Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Senior High. “I want to see my friends, and eat lunch surrounded by the loud noises of people eating and talking in the cafeteria.”

In order for the schools to reopen, there have to be strict cleaning procedures put into place including new ways of cleaning as well as new products and routines for janitors.

“New cleaning products were given to me recently to use for almost everything in the school. It’s made of special ingredients that are meant to kill and fight off the. . . coronavirus,” said Marcos Sanchez, a janitor at Hialeah High School. “The way that me and the other janitors have to clean has also changed. There is a routine where I have to wipe down all surfaces with that new cleaning product basically every hour.”

Principals are also responsible for ensuring that new hygiene procedures are followed when schools finally do open. With a range of ages from 5-11 in elementary schools, it can be hard to make sure that all students follow the rules.

“As a principal, I’m ultimately in charge of every student who is enrolled in this school, meaning that they are my responsibility,” said Karen Belusic, principal of Biscayne Beach Elementary School in Miami Beach. “And with everything still happening, I just don’t want to risk anything.”

(For part 2 of this series, click here)

Megan Kendrick was born in Ft. Pierce, FL. She is passionate about everything environmental and her ultimate dream is to be a writer with National Geographic