The Florida Department of Education has issued an order this week requiring that all schools must reopen for in-person classes this Fall, leaving teachers and parents concerned about their safety.
“This is my paper. I have to drop this off today. My choices are attending school physically for up to five days a week or my school online, which is full-time distance learning,” said Michelle Dempsey, mother.
Michelle is the mother of a five year old. Her daughter is set to start kindergarten in the fall.
“As it stands right now I would be very scared to let her go to school, the same way I was scared to send her to camp this summer,” said Michelle.
The anxiety she’s feeling is what hundreds of thousands parents in South Florida are feeling right now.
“I know that’s one of the most important, transformative years in a student’s life. But she would have to go to the school and sit between plexiglass, they wouldn’t be allowed to touch each others manipulatives where they sit in groups and use different tools like dominoes or magnets for learning, they can’t leave the classroom. I don’t want her elementary school experience feeling uncomfortable and feeling like jail,” added Michelle.
Governor Ron De Santis signed an executive order Monday demanding that schools not only open but also provide the full array of services that are required by law so that families who wish to educate their children in a brick and mortar school full time, have the opportunity to do so.
But Superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Alberto Carvalho, says the district’s reopening plan is contingent on Florida making progress on reining in the spread of the virus.
“If we don’t reach Phase two by August 24th, which is the programmed first day of school, we will not transition to a full model of traditional education in the schoolhouse. It would be reckless,” said Carvalho.
The superintendent of Broward County Public Schools, Robert Runcie, agreeing saying full in-person learning for students in the upcoming fall semester is unlikely to happen.
“At this time, we do not see a realistic path to opening all district schools with 100% full enrollment everyday as we were before we closed schools due to the coronavirus pandemic,” said Runcie.
In the meantime, Michelle is trying to stay positive.
She decided to sign her daughter up for Miami-Dade’s my school online program to keep her family safe.
“If you are faced with making a difficult decision and feel pressure because of outsiders, you need to lay your head down at the end of the night knowing you did what’s best for your kid and not what’s socially acceptable for your group of friends and family,” said Michelle.
Parents of Broward County Public Schools students are being asked to pick an option for teaching their children by taking a questionnaire on their website, click here for more info.
In Miami-Dade, parents will be able to choose what kind of instruction they want for their children by filling out this form.
The deadline for both counties is this Friday, July 10th.