Education

Carvalho to students on coronavirus spring break: Log off, go outside. ‘You deserve it.’

Miami-Dade and Broward county school districts begin spring break on Monday, a welcome respite before beginning the new normal in the coronavirus pandemic: remote online learning until at least April 15.

The fourth- and sixth-largest school districts in the country will be off for a week until going fully online March 30. Miami-Dade had a dry run this week with more than 850,000 logins (including duplicates) into learning platforms like Edmodo and Edgenuity. The school district also distributed 200,000 meals to students and their families..

Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho held a press conference on Friday recapping the week. He said there were some issues with online learning: Some parents complained that the amount of work assigned was “excessive” during the optional week of school. And students sometimes had trouble signing into the learning platforms as servers became overwhelmed when students nationwide logged on.

He said the district’s help line, 305-995-HELP, will be open through spring break from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. That line received 2,000 calls this week.

“I can assure you we are much farther ahead than anyone is,” Carvalho said. “I know this is less than ideal,” he added, calling the change “disruptive and inconvenient.”

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Broward, which unlike Miami-Dade did not have remote online learning up and running this week, stated in an emailed press release that 64,000 computer devices were distributed to students on Friday. That’s more than Miami-Dade, which distributed 56,000 laptops.

Superintendent Robert Runcie said 95,000 laptops were purchased with the SMART bond passed by voters in 2014.

“It’s been wonderful to see our families supporting their child’s education and know that we have the technology resources to help them during this time,” Runcie said in the email.

Broward’s online learning will operate similarly to Miami-Dade’s. Students in Broward will log on through a portal and can communicate with their teachers during designated “office hours.”

While Broward will not be distributing meals during spring break, Miami-Dade will. This will be the first year the school district will distribute meals at 31 designated sites and six high schools.

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When remote learning officially begins, Miami-Dade students can pick up meals at 31 designated sites from 4 to 7 p.m. Carvalho explained the pick-up was shifted later to not interfere with online learning.

The school district, which owns the broadcasting license for WLRN Public Television, will be launching a series of educational programs on March 30. Age-appropriate content for Pre-K through 12th grade will be aired from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Carvalho couldn’t say what students, especially high school seniors, could look forward to for the rest of the semester. No decisions have been made regarding graduation ceremonies and proms.

He encouraged students and staff to log off next week and go outside.

“Give yourselves a break,” Carvalho said. “This has been an exhausting week. You deserve it.”

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