Wednesday is the last day for parents to decide if they want their child to learn in a classroom or continue learning online once schools reopen in Miami-Dade County with new COVID-19 safety measures in place.
The 2020-2021 school year begins next month and deciding whether to completely or partially reopen schools is a difficult decision school officials in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties are grappling with as Florida — and the White House — push to have schools reopen for face-to-face learning in August.
Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie and Palm Beach County Schools Superintendent Ronald Fennoy are recommending to their respective School Boards that the new school year begin fully online until Florida’s COVID-19 pandemic improves.
Florida currently has more than 300,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and has confirmed more than 4,500 COVID-19 related deaths.
Based on Miami-Dade County Public Schools reopening plan, which was approved by the nine-member School Board earlier this month, and what MDCPS Superintendent Alberto Carvalho has previously told the Miami Herald, schools would not reopen for face-to-face learning until the county enters Phase 2 of Florida’s reopening plan.
Miami-Dade, which has more than 72,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, is currently in Phase 1. If it is still in Phase 1 by the start of school on Aug. 24, as it is now, schooling would be held entirely online.
When Miami-Dade schools reopen, what will it look like?
Once schools do reopen for face-to-face learning, it won’t look like it used to. Everyone, including the children, will need to wear a mask and follow social distancing guidelines to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus. Some kids will be learning online, others in the classroom and some will be doing a mixture of face-to-face and online learning to reduce classroom sizes.
The learning format in Miami-Dade County Public Schools will depend on what selection parents make in the district’s preference form, which can be found online at http://api.dadeschools.net/spfa/home.
The form, which has been available online since July 6, asks parents to decide if they want their child to have face-to-face learning in the classroom, known as the “Schoolhouse” model, or if they would rather have them be fully online this fall until the county’s COVID-19 situation improves.
Depending on the school, the “Schoolhouse” model means your kid might attend school in-person five days a week or will attend using a “hybrid” model, which is a combination of face-to-face and online learning.
Besides finding the form online, parents can also select their child’s schooling preference via the Parent Portal or the Dadeschools Mobile App. Parents can also download a PDF version of the form at http://pdfs.dadeschools.net/dadeschools/Re-opening%20Program%20Selection%20Form.pdf and drop it off at your child’s school between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Wednesday or email it to your child’s principal, according to the district’s website.
Remember, you have until 11:59 p.m. Wednesday to fill out the form. As of noon Wednesday, preferences have been made for 206,709 students, according to a school district spokeswoman. There are about 275,000 students who attend district-run public schools in Miami-Dade County, so preferences are still needed for fewer than 70,000 students.
Miami-Dade County Public Schools say it will try to accommodate any changes parents want to make afer the deadline but that it cannot be guaranteed.
Any parent who does not fill out the school preference form will have their child’s learning preference listed as the traditional “Schoolhouse” approach “by default,” a Miami-Dade County Public Schools spokeswoman said.
To learn more about the “Schoolhouse” and full-time online learning model, including information about school building capacity, transportation and other frequently asked questions, visit http://reopening.dadeschools.net
Miami Herald staff writer Colleen Wright contributed to this report.