MIAMI, FL — After hearing from hundreds of parents and teachers, Miami school officials have voted to delay the reopening of brick-and-mortar classrooms until at least Oct. 14 in the nation's fourth-largest school system.
"I understand the level of anxiety in the community, and I understand that COVID-19 is a threat that this community has not ignored, this nation cannot ignore," Miami-Dade School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said Tuesday. "I think hundreds of parents and teachers have declared their position, that they are anxious. They are concerned, and the board concurs."
The school board had considered a proposal by Carvalho to begin opening up brick-and-mortar classrooms as an option for parents earlier in the month, but it opted unanimously for the later date after hearing from the community.
"I did not sleep all night because I do take every public comment very seriously," board member Lubby Navarro told colleagues. "I, too, heard the desperation; and I, too, heard the plea of our employees, our teachers, our parents. It was emotional."
One mother said on social media she was skeptical the district could keep children safe during in-person instruction.
"Half the time the air conditioner at my kids school didn't work," she wrote. "Now I'm supposed to believe that you've improved the air quality in the schools of the rooms these kids and teachers are going to be spending all their time in? No freaking way."
Another mom said the risk is relative. "Reopen please. Education is crucial," she penned. "Publix and airplanes have more germs than schools and are open. Thank you."
Students who attend Archdiocese of Miami schools began returning to their classrooms Wednesday as an option for parents.
Each of 49 elementary schools and eight high schools will undergo a "phase-in" plan for the return of in-classroom instruction, according to archdiocesan officials.
After-school care will be offered where available. Each school will publish a plan on its website with specifics for the return of each class and grade. Archdiocesan officials said the staggered return of students will be completed by Oct. 2.