Frequently Asked Questions

Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) strives to safely return students to the physical schoolhouse as local conditions permit. The District will be using gating criteria recommended to us by local medical and public health experts to guide our decision-making regarding the reopening of our schools. Because the situation is fluid in our community, these guidelines are only applicable as of October 22, and will be updated as conditions change.

Most Frequently Asked Questions Regarding COVID-19

General

In Stage II, we will activate both MSO and the 5-day Schoolhouse models concurrently. Students will be able to participate in the instructional model that was selected by their families in July. Only students whose parents selected the Schoolhouse model in their declaration of intent will return to school physically. Students whose parents selected MSO will continue online learning.

If you change your mind after the submission of your declaration of intent, the District will make every effort to accommodate your request, but it cannot be guaranteed. This information will be guiding school building capacity, transportation, scheduling, and the hiring of teachers at each school. Transfers from MSO to the Schoolhouse will be considered at the end of the first grading period.

It is not recommended that siblings share devices. In order to ensure that all students can engage appropriately, regardless of model, we are amplifying our efforts to ensure that access to devices and connectivity are not barriers to the student experience.

Please contact your child’s school about device availability and distribution. If you DO have a district owned device at home, make sure it is working properly before the first day of school. To do this, power the device on, make sure the device is fully charged, and have your child log into the device and access the Student Portal. If you have issues logging into the device, contact your child’s school for support.

Individual teachers will determine if there is a need for students to bring in their devices to school. This information will be communicated to the students and parents directly by the individual teachers. If a student is in need of access to a device and does not have one, parents should contact their child’s school regarding device availability and distribution.

All M-DCPS teachers have district-issued email addresses, and parents may access these email addresses in a variety of ways. You can visit your child’s school website – many schools provide a staff directory that lists teacher email addresses. Parents can always contact their child’s school to leave a message for the teacher and initiate communication that way. Email addresses for teachers can be found in the Portal where a child’s class schedule is located, and parents will be able to send emails to their child’s teacher via the Dadeschools Mobile App and the MSO platform when school starts.

During Stage II, the uniform policy will be enforced, including required face coverings in the Schoolhouse Model, and will continue to be encouraged in MSO. The District has established a School Uniform Assistance Program to provide student uniforms to families who may be experiencing financial hardship. Parents may communicate a need for assistance by contacting their child’s school. District and school-site staff will work to address each request for uniform assistance.

Official school attendance for the day will be taken during a student’s first class, and class attendance will be captured during live sessions with teachers for each class at the secondary level or whenever students change teachers at the elementary level. Students must enable the camera function on their computers so that the teacher can identify them and take attendance as well as conduct wellness checks of their pupils regularly. Parents/families with extenuating circumstances inhibiting this functionality may contact their child’s school and speak to an administrator. Details on attendance procedures and appeal processes for student absences can be found in the District’s Reopening Guide. Parents/families with additional questions regarding student attendance procedures may contact their child’s school for more information.

Children scheduled to enter Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade for the 2020-2021 school year need to be properly immunized or they will not be allowed to enter school. For more information, visit http://www.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/immunization/children-and-adolescents/school-immunization-requirements/index.html. The District strongly recommends that children get the flu vaccine.

The District continues to collaborate with community-based organizations/agencies to provide childcare options for working families through October 31, 2020. A list of available agencies and sites across Miami-Dade County can be found here.

Learning Models

Once you have Internet and a dedicated mobile device with a microphone and camera, your child is ready to start My School Online. All they will need to do is to access the MSO icon found on their student portal. To do this, students will go to www.dadeschools.net and click on the Student Tab. Then, they will click on the Login to Student Portal link. When prompted, students will enter their username and password and click Login. Finally, students will click on the My School Online icon to launch the application.

In MSO, the student’s day will mirror that of their Schoolhouse peers. Students will follow their class schedules and classes. Morning Announcements will occur during the first 15 minutes of the day. Official school attendance will be recorded and maintained for each class. Through videoconferencing, teachers will be able to interface with their entire class, a small group of students, or individual students. During lessons, teachers can respond to students’ questions and provide real-time support and progress monitoring. Additionally, teachers will be able to host parent and student conferences during planning periods, before and after school as appropriate. Students will participate in videoconferencing with their teacher, collaborate with peers, complete independent work, and take part in specials or electives, lunch, recess, and brain breaks.

Screen time expectations for students will vary depending on what is being taught and the learning activities students are assigned to do. Teachers are expected to provide live instruction for at least 50% of the typical class session. The remaining class time will involve independent work that can be done either offline or online, depending on the task, or small-group instruction with the teacher.

Students in MSO have access to the same elective courses as students in the schoolhouse.

In both Stage I and Stage II, the start and end times for elementary and middle schools are the same. In senior high schools, however, we are affording all grade 9-12 students the opportunity to start their school day later, at 8:30 a.m., while in Stage I. When we transition to Stage II, all high school students will revert to a 7:20 a.m. start.

My School Online (MSO) is M-DCPS’ innovative learning model for those students in grades K-12 who wish to take online classes full-time, but still maintain their enrollment at their home school. Students who choose to participate in MSO will receive remote instruction from M-DCPS teachers using high-quality course materials and will follow the standard school schedule and bell times. They will also maintain their enrollment status at their brick-and-mortar school and will be permitted to return to their schools. Students who are currently enrolled in an M-DCPS Magnet school, who opt for MSO, are guaranteed their seat back upon the announcement of Stage 3 and the full reopening of traditional schooling.

Miami-Dade Online (MDO) Academy is a fully-accredited Miami-Dade County public school offering students a comprehensive K-12 full-time virtual educational program, providing anytime, anywhere learning. This virtual, innovative, and interactive learning environment is student-centered and academically individualized to build educational capacity.

Florida Virtual School (FLVS) is its own fully accredited public school district comprised of six schools, with flexible and full-time options for elementary, middle, and high school students. It is not a Miami-Dade County public school. Students currently enrolled in an M-DCPS magnet school who opt for either FLVS or Miami-Dade Online Academy will not have their seat reserved at their magnet school at the end of Stage 2, should they wish to return to brick and mortar.

Students who attend Magnet Schools and schools with special programs can opt for My School Online. Magnet schools and schools with specialized programs may offer a hybrid model depending on their unique circumstances. Dual Enrollment courses will continue to be offered in partnership with local colleges and universities. Courses will be offered both online and on the college campus, subject to the instructional delivery model selected by the credit-granting college. AP/IB/Cambridge courses will continue to be offered at schools with these programs to the extent possible.

Accommodations for students with special needs will be made in accordance with each student’s Individual Educational Plan (IEP) and/or 504 Plan to the extent practicable.

There are several ways that parents can support their child’s learning:

  • Ensure that a mobile device and internet access are available at home. If you have questions about how to pick up a mobile device or need assistance with internet access, please contact your child’s school.
  • Monitor District communications for up-to-date information regarding distance learning resources.
  • Visit The Parent Academy for webinars, resources, and up-to-date information on distance learning.
  • Ensure that your children know their usernames and passwords for instructional resources and encourage their participation in distance learning offerings.
  • Participate in M-DCPS’ Week of Welcome
  • Maintain communication with your children’s teachers and school counselor(s).
  • Engage your children in conversations regarding assignments.
  • Monitor time spent engaging in online and offline learning.
  • Support your children’s emotional balance by providing time for physical activity and play.

Facial Coverings

Facial coverings will be required in school facilities and on District transportation. The exceptions will be during meals, while engaging in strenuous physical activity, or if there is an underlying health concern for a specific student. In these situations, distancing guidelines will be followed, and alternate arrangements may be made.

All persons must wear facial coverings that cover both the mouth and nose when on School Board property, at a school activity, or riding a bus or other approved transportation. Goggles or face shields are permitted to be worn in addition to a facial covering so long as they are not darkened or excessively tinted. Students and children over 2 years of age are expected to come to school each day with their personal face coverings. However, facial coverings will be available for distribution to students in case of emergency. Students are responsible for their own personal property, and face coverings should be stored appropriately. If a student needs a face covering, parents are asked to please contact their child’s principal.

Facial coverings must be made from a minimum of double layer cloth and be snug fitting to cover both the nose and mouth. Facial coverings should not include any type of exhalation valves or vents or be masks designed as a costume. It is recommended to have two face coverings available each day in case one face covering becomes unfit for use. Under no circumstances should students share or swap facial coverings.  To learn more about appropriate face covering use and the types of face coverings recommended for use in schools, please review pages 28 and 29 of the District’s Reopening Guide.

All student facial coverings must meet the requirements of the Code of Student Conduct and Policy 5511, Dress Code and School Uniform. Face coverings are apparel/accessories and must not include obscene, profane, drug-related, gang-related, or inflammatory messages or pictorial graphics.  Face coverings that include inappropriate language that could be perceived as offensive, derogatory, threatening, or intimidating are strictly prohibited.  Repeated display of such face coverings will constitute disciplinary measures as outlined in the Code of Student Conduct. 

Refusal to wear a face covering after directed to comply by an authority figure will constitute defiance of school personnel and/or disruptive behavior pursuant to the Code of Student Conduct.

Students participating in extracurricular activities, such as athletics, musical or theatrical performances, where the wearing of facial coverings is not practicable or may create a health risk, will be directed by their teacher, coach, or advisor as to when facial coverings may be removed during the activity such as swimming or high intensity activities where breathing may be more difficult. However, students must continue to follow maximum social distancing and all other safety procedures in place for the activity and must resume wearing the facial covering when directed to do so.

Exemptions from the use of facial coverings must be requested directly to the school principal. Supporting documentation for the exemption will be required. Students who have difficulty breathing, or sensory issues arising from a documented medical or psychological issue, or students who have communication issues and may require the teacher or service provider to see their mouth, may request an exemption from the principal. If appropriate, they may be asked to wear a clear facial covering or face shield. Face shields must wrap around the sides of the wearer’s face and extend below the chin. Documentation from a medical provider must be on file and reviewed by staff before a student will be excused from this facial covering requirement.

Health and Safety in the Schoolhouse

M-DCPS will implement several measures to ensure every effort is taken to provide social distancing at school site facilities, including limiting the overall number of students per school, adjusting bus routes to promote greater social distancing, one-way hallways, and capacity limitations for restrooms and elevators. These are just some of the many procedures being implemented.

Students, parents and visitors are always required to maintain the maximum amount of social distancing possible during arrival and dismissal at schools. School site specific plans will be shared with parents before school begins.

Every effort will be made by schools to maximize classroom space to facilitate social distancing as much as possible. This includes the removal of non-essential furniture and equipment. Students will be seated at least 1 meter (3 feet, 3 inches) apart while at their desks.

All M-DCPS schools have procedures in place to limit large group gatherings. Signage has been placed throughout every campus to remind students of the expectations to promote the safest learning environment possible. When transition between classrooms is necessary, schools have developed a plan of either one-way or two-lane hallways depending on school design and need. School staff will monitor transitions to ensure students are maintaining maximum social distancing and wearing facial coverings. Parents should remind students of the need to comply with school procedures to ensure their safety, as well as that of their classmates.

Restrooms will be limited to two people at a time.

Based upon the latest recommendations from public health experts, temperature checks for students will not be performed when entering the schoolhouse. Parents are strongly encouraged to perform temperature checks at home and to keep children home upon any sign of illness. If a student appears ill while at school, staff will conduct a screening.

The District has developed strategies to ensure students and employees are able to practice good hygiene while on campus. Sanitation stations will be installed in high‐traffic areas, including the building entrance, cafeteria, and hallways. Procedures to encourage handwashing breaks, limit sharing of materials, and encourage the use of digital resources for instruction will be established at school sites. Cafeterias, gyms, and media centers may also be repurposed for instructional use. Capacity limitations will be placed for restrooms and elevator usage. M-DCPS has also significantly augmented its cleaning and sanitization regimens for all schools, facilities, and school buses.

To maximize safety, students should practice the following personal behaviors: stay home if they are sick; utilize hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol upon entering the building; wash hands frequently or use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available; use a facial covering at all times; avoid touching face and eyes; wash/sanitize hands after touching or removing facial covering; limit use of shared objects, such as physical education equipment, playground equipment, art supplies, toys, and games; bring personal water bottles as water fountains will be turned off but bottle filling stations will be made available for refills; and follow all directions provided by teachers or administrators for the safety of the school community. It is especially important that students stay in their assigned classrooms and spaces.

Frequent handwashing will be encouraged. Hand sanitizing stations will be available in high-traffic areas in schools, including classrooms, and on school buses. If a student leaves class during a class period, they will be expected to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer prior to returning to the classroom.

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, visitor access will be limited and restricted to the main office. Please contact the school directly to schedule an appointment. Any visitors who are permitted to enter District buildings will be subject to screening, must wear a facial covering and adhere to all District guidelines contained at M-DCPS Reopening Website, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Florida Department of Health, and local health department guidelines.

M-DCPS is equally dedicated to supporting students’ social emotional and mental health, as poor mental health is a barrier to their learning and overall well-being. The M-DCPS Department of Mental Health Services will continue to provide a blended model of support to students and families, inclusive of in-person and online deployment of mental health services. For additional support, please contact the Mental Health Parent Assistance Line at 305 995-7100..

Sanitization

School site custodial activities have been adjusted to increase the frequency of sanitizing high‐touch areas. At the end of each day, custodial teams will sanitize all areas of the campus, including cafeterias, classrooms, restrooms, gym and locker rooms, offices, and public areas in preparation for the next day of learning.

The District is using hospital‐grade germicide to clean and sanitize facilities through various delivery systems to ensure that solutions are applied correctly and evenly.

Illness And Covid-19 Cases in the Schoolhouse

Before sending a child to school, parents/guardians should assess whether the student has any symptoms of COVID-19. At this time, those symptoms include: a fever over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit; cough; shortness of breath or difficulty breathing; fatigue; unexplained muscle or body aches; headache; new loss of taste or smell; sore throat; congestion or runny nose not associated with known allergies; nausea or vomiting; or diarrhea. If a student develops any of these symptoms, the symptoms should be reported to the school and discussed prior to the student reporting to school. Students who are ill, should NOT be brought to school. 

While the District will NOT be performing temperature checks on students on-site upon their arrival, at this time, the school will rely on students, staff, and families to report accurate information for the safety of all the other families across the District.   

Information will be shared with the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade, the District’s School Health office, and other District/Region officials as necessary. Any personally identifiable information will be kept confidential, as required by law.

If a student becomes ill or exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 while at school, the student will be separated from other students and staff to the designated space identified as the school’s Isolation Room. While in the Isolation Room, the student will be monitored. The District will contact parents/guardians and, if needed, the student’s emergency contacts. Parents/guardians and/or emergency contacts will be informed of the importance of the student being picked up immediately for the safety of the student and others.

Students presenting general illness symptoms that are non-COVID related will need to remain home until they are symptom-free without the use of medication for 24 hours. Students presenting COVID-like symptoms, but no known COVID contact, MUST remain home in isolation for at least 10 days since symptoms first appeared AND 24 hours have passed since last fever without the use of fever-reducing medications AND symptoms have improved, UNLESS student obtains a clearance letter from health care provider.

Students will be placed in an isolation room with trained personnel for supervision. A screening will be conducted, and the parent/guardian will be contacted for immediate pick-up.

The District notifies the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade of every self-reported case of a student and employee. An in-school contact investigation/tracing process is initiated immediately. A major part of the investigation is to determine who came in close contact with the individual who tested positive. In most cases, those individuals who are identified as having come in close contact are told to quarantine. These actions are in addition to other mitigation strategies that may be implemented.

The FDOH will notify the District School Health Office when the student is cleared to return to school. The District School Health office will notify the school principal who will then notify the student’s parent/guardian.

If the student has no symptoms, they will be asked to quarantine for 14 days from the date of their last contact with a person who has COVID-19 before returning to school. If student develops symptoms, they must remain home in isolation for at least 10 days since symptoms first appeared AND 24 hours have passed since last fever without the use of fever-reducing medications AND symptoms have improved.

If other household members, including siblings, did not come in direct contact with someone that tested positive, and the individual in quarantine does not have symptoms, those household members do not need to quarantine or isolate. However, if the individual in quarantine has symptoms or tests positive, the household member should contact their medical provider and get tested.

In many cases, the decision to close a classroom(s) or a school is the result of the close contact investigation. However, these determinations will be made on an individual school-by-school basis due to multiple factors that potentially impact the final decision. These factors include, but are not limited to:

  • Number of COVID-19 positive cases of students and staff
  • Potential exposure to other students and employees identified through contract tracing
  • Ability to sanitize the school-site prior to the return of students and staff
  • Potential for outbreak
  • Cases that are linked within same school
  • Ability to notify those impacted based on the day of the week and the time that the case was reported

Students who are unable to attend in-person learning due to COVID-19 complications will transition to My School Online to ensure continuity of instruction. The District will ensure the students are equipped with technology support to transition to remote learning.

If anyone in the student’s household tests positive for COVID-19, the parents/guardians must immediately self-report the result to the school(s). After school hours and on weekends, cases can be reported by calling 305-995-3000. The school principal will then report the case to the DSHO.

Employees who were medically confirmed to have COVID-19, and demonstrated symptoms, may be allowed to return to work if:
• At least ten (10) days have passed since their symptoms first appeared; 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications; COVID-19 symptoms have improved (for example, cough, shortness of breath); and submit a doctor’s note allowing them to return to work.

Employees who had a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19, but did not show any symptoms, may be allowed to return to work if:
• At least ten (10) days have passed since they had a positive viral test for COVID-19; have no apparent symptoms; and submit a doctor’s note allowing them to return to work.

Employees must quarantine for fourteen (14) days after their last direct contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and may return to work if they are not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms (for example, cough, shortness of breath).

Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) began reporting cases on the COVID-19 dashboard on October 5 – when students returned in-person learning. Only confirmed cases among students and employees who are physically in school will be reported on the dashboard, which is updated daily. Cases of students who test positive for COVID-19 are uploaded only after they have been confirmed by FDOH in Miami-Dade County. In accordance with Board policy, all M-DCPS employees must self-report a positive COVID-19 test result. Self-reported employee cases are uploaded once they have been verified using an internal vetting process.

The school site case numbers reflected in the dashboard are provided by principals and vetted by the District Health Office to ensure data quality is maintained.  This may result in several days lag for self-reported cases. The confirmation process for student cases and subsequent entry into the system are dependent on test verification from the FDOH in Miami-Dade County.

Dashboard data entry is separate and apart from the immediate mitigation activities occurring at school sites such as self-isolation for suspected/positive cases, the quarantining of employees and students who are close contacts, and the deep sanitization of all areas of the impacted school. The District COVID-19 Dashboard is not intended to be a real- time system for tracking self-reported employee and confirmed student cases. It is a lagging indicator and should not be interpreted as an immediate notification system of cases. Families and employees should not rely on the dashboard to learn about cases in their school or worksite as they will learn about self-reported cases from their school or worksite well ahead of that information being populated onto the dashboard.

Parents/guardians should contact their child’s school.

Meals

During Stage II, students who are attending in person will eat their meals in the cafeteria, classroom, or another designated area based on the school site’s ability to implement social distancing. Student identification badges will now be scanned for meal accountability, eliminating the use of keypads.

Students attending My School Online can continue to pick up multiple meals at distributions throughout the week. Meals will be available for pick-up on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4-5:30 p.m. Student identification numbers must be provided by the student, parent or guardian to pick up the meals. Parents with students at multiple school sites will be able to collect all meals at one time and at one location. They must simply provide student identification numbers for each child.  Parents with children at districtwide magnet schools or choice programs will also have the opportunity to pick up student meals at their neighborhood schools. We will be using cashless, online payment via PayPAMS, our Parent Account Management System, for meal distribution at all schools.

For more information on PayPAMS, visit https://paypams.com/.

Transportation

As the District prepares to transport students this upcoming school year, we will implement strategies such as reducing bus capacity, requiring face coverings while riding the bus, and reconfiguring bus routes to maintain reliable transportation. Hand sanitizing stations will be available on every school bus. School buses will also be sanitized daily and between morning and afternoon routes.

Internships

Students enrolled in the Academic Year Internship Program and their providers will be given the option of virtual, in-person, or hybrid internships. A parent waiver has been developed for those students who wish to have an in-person experience at the provider’s site. Both parties (student/family and the provider) must agree to the in-person internship.

Athletics and Activities

The District understands the many benefits of extracurricular activities to the overall student experience and will continue to offer opportunities to safely participate, in alignment with current CDC guidelines and Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) rules. A phased plan has been developed for our students to safely engage in athletics and activities. This will begin once schools are opened and coaches and student-athletes are able to return.

The District will continue to offer both before and after care programs during Stage II, including fee-based principal-operated and fee-based outside agency operated programs, community-based organizations operated programs and programs funded by the 21st Century Grant. To ensure safety, the following measures will be in place: class sizes will be reduced; students will be assigned to cohorts for the duration of care; both students and staff will wear face coverings.

Employee Protection and Support

During Stage II, teachers will report to the schoolhouse to provide the greatest flexibility regarding parent and student choice for greater academic success as well as for flexible scheduling, departmental pairing, and dual mode schedules. Exceptions will be made for teachers with ADA accommodations. Teachers who are experiencing other impediments, not considered or covered as an accommodation by ADA, and who have a full-schedule of distance learning, may be provided the opportunity to work remotely temporarily if student enrollment, parental choice, and school-site factors permit.

The following measures will be taken to ensure the health and safety of all employees:

  • Conduct daily health self-screenings prior to entering the work site.
  • Contact the site administrator for guidance when an employee is experiencing COVID-19-related symptoms or has tested positive.
  • As possible, separate/distance employee workstations and follow social distancing guidelines.
  • Create physical barriers in cases where employees’ job functions require face-to-face contact with members of the public.
  • Limit the sharing of equipment to the extent possible and frequently clean shared equipment.
  • Promote of virtual meetings as much as possible.
  • Establish PPE requirements, including face coverings and wash hands frequently.
  • Increase sanitation of office spaces.
  • Limit capacities in elevators and in bathrooms.
  • Provide hand sanitizing stations in high traffic areas.

If an employee has an underlying medical condition that places them at higher risk for exposure to COVID-19, and they are being asked to physically report to the workplace and are unable or unwilling to do so, they should be referred to the District’s Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) Office at ADAoffice@dadeschools.net or 305-995-7116.

Employees may seek cost free and confidential support for their mental and emotional needs using the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and Employee Wellness Program. The EAP will provide ongoing assessments, counseling, referrals, and case/care management as needed. Additionally, the District’s Employee Wellness Program, Well Way, remains committed to promoting the physical and mental wellbeing of all staff through employee education and partnerships for services, including telemedicine and tele counseling.

Employees with greater risk for complications associated with COVID-19 who may need accommodations to perform their work duties may contact the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Office for assistance. Extended Family and Medical Leave may also be provided to both full-time and hourly employees who are unable to work or telework due to reasons related to COVID-19.

Employees can access each of the aforementioned offices using the numbers listed below: