Alberto Carvalho, the superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday and discussed the logistics of students returning to school.
Carvalho said his district, which is the fourth-largest school district in America, has gone through CDC guidelines and consulted with local and state health departments in advance of reopening.
“The issue of social distancing in any one school in Miami-Dade or Broward or Palm Beach or other districts may be difficult to achieve,” Carvalho said.
“But there are mitigation strategies that you can take in lieu of the six-feet of distancing like the wearing of masks, which will be a mandatory element when we do reopen, like the use of non-traditional spaces, like cafeterias or media centers or gymnasiums.”
Asked where the money will come from to adapt his schools to following CDC guidelines, Carvalho said the CARES Act appropriated $900 million for Florida.
“The Governor controls about $137 million. And then the rest of the allocation comes directly to school districts,” he said. “So we received a significant early investment. But that’s not going to be sufficient. I mean, obviously it is clear, on the basis of economic conditions that I think will trail the current health crisis, that much more will need to be earmarked.”
“I think that for the purchase of PPEs, additional disinfection cycles, the electrostatic disinfection of schools, alteration of schedules, (we) may need more bus routes to achieve greater social distancing between the riders. More than likely we will need additional resources earmarked specifically for local governments and school systems.”
Meet the Press host Chuck Todd also asked Carvalho whether extracurricular activities like sports and marching band will be able to continue as part of the fall school experience. Carvalho said individual sports like tennis might make more sense than sports like wrestling or football.
“Our start of the school year is six weeks from now,” he said. “It is quite possible if the social behavior and the restrictions in place, if people wear masks, if people exercise social distancing that conditions may be appropriate and healthy for students to return to the very best model of teaching and learning which is in-person.”
“But we need the community’s collaboration. We need the science to drive the practice rather than politics influencing what is legitimately a community concern.”