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Safety Concerns Being Addressed As Miami-Dade, Broward Schools Eye Return To Classrooms

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami-Dade and Broward schools may be just weeks away from reopening classrooms. As the day for reopening gets closer, more safety concerns are being addressed.

Some Miami-Dade school board members want acrylic sheets on students' desks in time for reopening.

"That is just not right," school board member Marta Perez said during a special meeting Monday.

The meeting had agenda items leftover after last week's meeting. That's the one where the board voted during the overnight hours to get rid of K12, the online learning platform.

Perez and other board members learned there are guards in place at the school board auditorium but not inside classrooms.

Staff at the administration building never planned on guards for each classroom desk but are now looking into options.

Staff told board members the acrylic sheets will need to be cleaned between classes.

MDCPS staff also felt comfortable knowing students will be feet away from each other.

"The principals are going to need the plexiglass for safety," Perez told the board.

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho also said facial coverings will be required, except for physical education outside.  If a student doesn't have a mask, the school will give them one.

"They'll be mandatory to board a bus. They'll be mandatory in the school and in the classroom," Carvalho said.

When it comes to the doors of each school reopening for students, it may be less than three weeks away.

"The possible reopening of schools later on this month or into October 5th," Carvalho said.

The Broward Teachers Union is hearing a similar timeline for a phased-in reopening in their county.

However, Broward Teachers Union President Anna Fusco said after a five-hour reopening meeting with district leaders Monday, she was blindsided.

The union said teachers have been told to show up to the classroom or take a leave.

"I don't know how many have some serious, serious compromised immune systems and serious health conditions," Fusco said.

For those who will show up, they must teach in-person and distance learning at the same time.

"We are still making phone calls to the board members to ask if they were aware of this serious direct on our teachers," Fusco said Monday.

The district didn't confirm, but said a survey has been sent to teachers.

Fusco said students in the classroom will still be using their distance learning devices and the same program for safety and to reduce contact with teachers. That's just one reason Fusco wants the district to press the brake pedal on reopening plans.

"Stick with the remote learning for a few more months to make sure that we are safer," Fusco said.

MDCPS staff will hear from medical experts this week. Board members are planning a special meeting next week to finalize reopening plans.

In Broward, leaders also plan to finalize reopening next week but we are expecting an update Tuesday morning from the superintendent.

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