MIAMI (CBSMiami) – In preparation for returning to school in August, Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho wants to accomplish three things and he unveiled his tentative plans at a School Board meeting on Wednesday.
First, Carvalho wants to prevent as much academic regression as possible for students struggling during distance learning while also planning for what a return to school might look like in August. And he wants to do it all while keeping everyone healthy and safe.
Much of the plan is not set in stone and remains under consideration.
Carvalho is calling his academic recovery initiative SOAR, which stands for Securing Opportunities for Academic Recovery. He said that will address the likelihood of significant regression among some students after schools transitioned to distance learning. Under that plan there would be summer sessions for some students who need it and there would also be classes offered for students who need to recover course credits. Additionally, in late July there would be an early start to the school year for lower performing students and some other students considered fragile.
"It's about expanded, extended learning opportunities through the summer, through the end of this school year and well into the school year because the fix, the solution is not going to happen overnight," he said.
The United Teachers of Dade told CBS 4 News that they believe many teachers will be willing to teach over the summer to ensure that students have the best opportunities to not fall further behind.
"A lot of the teachers do want to make sure that the students have what they need and learn what they need in order to be successful," said Mindy Grimes-Festge, Secretary-Treasurer.
Carvalho said there are many things to consider about the reopening of schools in August, like will schools fully reopen or will it be a blend of in person and virtual learning. Also, how will the school system prevent large groups from gathering in a time of social distancing.
"How do we treat activities in gyms? Cafeteria? Food distribution?" he wondered.
Carvalho said they are considering a multitude of options.
"We're going to consider more outdoor classroom options as well where and when appropriate," he said.
Another consideration — making sure that sick children don't come to school.
"The potential for daily temperature checks prior to entering buses or buildings is being evaluated," he said.
The goal remains to make a smooth transition to the 2020-2021 school year.
"We are hoping and preparing to open the 2020-21 school year as a regular normal school year but we want to be prepared for a whole host of possibilities," Carvalho said.
Carvalho said they will work with the teacher's union to sort out details on these proposals and the union believes common ground can be found. Grimes-Festge said teachers will likely want PPE when they return to work and Carvalho said during the meeting that they plan to provide PPE to staff.
"We believe it will work," said Grimes-Festge. "We have a collaborative relationship with the district, especially when it comes to the well-being of our members and students."
Carvalho also said he is also putting together a working group to study these issues and plans to hire a Chief Health Officer to address health concerns for students, teachers and staff.
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