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 eight gating criteria recommended to us by local medical and public health experts to guide our decision-making regarding the reopening of our schools. More information on the gating criteria and the schooling options available in each stage of our district’s reopening may be accessed in the Reopen Smart/Return Safe plan. Because the situation is fluid in our community, these guidelines are only applicable as of August 27, 2020, and will be updated as conditions change.

General

The 2020-2021 school year will begin on Monday, August 31, with students utilizing the District’s new and comprehensive My School Online (MSO) distance learning model during Stage I. M-DCPS launched a Week of Welcome on August 24 with activities and a week-long orientation tailored to help students and families prepare for the school year. All of these orientation materials may be accessed at miamiweekofwelcome.com.

M-DCPS will continue to monitor the state of COVID-19 within the community to ascertain whether we are able to pivot to Stage II, which would allow for the simultaneous delivery of our two instructional models. We are hoping that conditions improve considerably over the next several weeks so that we can transition to Stage II as soon as possible. A decision on whether M-DCPS will activate the schoolhouse model will be announced no later than September 30. During Stage I, we will continue to review opportunities to begin, in a very controlled and cautious manner, providing face-to-face opportunities for students who may have significant learning needs. We will also explore the potential for a staggered reopening for students who may have widening learning gaps due to the extensive time they have been away from school. This will allow us to transition subgroups of students to the schoolhouse based on need and academic fragility.

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.

Student schedules were made available on the portal and the Dadeschools Mobile App on Saturday, August 22. Contact your child’s school if you have questions about his/her schedule.

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. Additionally, parents can expect teachers to share their contact information and preferred methods for communication during Open House.

Even though we will be using a digital platform for My School Online, students will need typical school supplies such as paper and pencils to take notes and solve math problems during Stage I – as well as any other supplies that their teachers might indicate are necessary for their classes. Students will also need a computer with a camera, microphone and internet access. Some students may prefer to have headphones to help them focus, particularly if there are siblings or family members also working online nearby.

Students not using a District-issued device to engage in My School Online can use devices that meet the following specifications:

Mobile Device Specifications:
Processor: Intel N5000 (1.10GHz,4MB). Screen: 11.6"HD(1366x768)LED. Operating System: Windows10 Pro64. RAM: 4GB. Storage: 128 GB internal Solid-State Drive (SSD) or 128 GB internal HDD. Wireless: 802.11ac 2.4/5 GHz Camera: 720pHD. Battery: 3CellLi-Polymer

Desktop Specifications:
Processor (CPU): Intel Core i3 (sixth generation or newer) or equivalent. Operating System: Microsoft Windows 10 Professional. Memory: 2 GB RAM. Storage: 256 GB internal Solid-State Drive (SSD) or 512 GB internal HDD. Monitor: 15" LCD monitor. Network: Ethernet or wireless adapter 802.11ac 2.4/5 GHz

To provide a sense of routine and normalcy, uniforms are encouraged during Stage I on MSO. 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.

Our schools will host open houses this year. Information regarding specific dates and times is forthcoming.

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.

Per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, nonessential visitors to campuses will be limited. Partnerships with businesses, alumni, municipalities, chambers and other Community Based Organizations will continue to support the needs of our students, their families, and the District. Decisions in terms of partnership activities on school campuses will be made based on the Reopening Stage for Miami-Dade County and following recommended CDC guidelines. All volunteers, mentors, and community partners will be encouraged to continue their services, such as tutoring students, via digital platforms. In those cases where a physical visit to the school is needed, an appointment will need to made with the school.

Charter schools are governed by individual boards, which are granted the authority and responsibility to develop and implement their reopening plan. Private and archdiocese schools are not governed by The School Board of Miami-Dade County, but must comply with legal requirements set forth in the law and the Commissioner of Education’s Executive Order.

The District continues to collaborate with community-based organizations/agencies to provide childcare options for working families during Stage I. 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.

Prekindergarten students in Early Head Start, Head Start, Voluntary Pre-K, and Pre-K ESE classes will begin the school year utilizing MSO. Prekindergarten students will transition with other elementary students to both the Schoolhouse and MSO (depending on their family’s choice) when the District moves to Stage II. For more information, please contact the Department of Early Childhood Programs at 305-995-7632.

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.

Health and Safety

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.

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.

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.

All M-DCPS students will continue to have access to healthy meals during the school day. While students are participating in remote learning during Stage I, we will continue meal distributions at school sites in the afternoon after the school day ends, allowing students to pick up multiple meals at once. Once the District progresses to 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. Students attending My School Online will be able to pick up multiple meals at distributions throughout the week.

Any school closures will be determined in collaboration with the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County. If a school closure is necessary, a deep cleaning and sanitization will be performed. Schools will reopen after the risk of exposure has been fully evaluated. While schools are closed, students will participate in remote learning during the length of closure.

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.

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.

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.

Meals

M-DCPS will continue to provide students with healthy meals during the school day. During Stage I, we will distribute meals at school sites after the school day ends. Students and families will be able to pick up multiple meals at once without interruption to students’ valuable learning time. Meals will be available for pick-up on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4-6 p.m. Parents with students at multiple school sites will be able to collect all meals at one time and at one location. Parents with children at districtwide magnet schools or choice programs will also have the opportunity to pick up student meals at their neighborhood schools. Please note that the USDA requires that parents/adults provide proof of valid identification that the meal is for a child 18 years old or younger if the child is not physically with them at the time of meal pick-up. Identification includes a student ID, report card, or progress report.

Once the District progresses to 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 will be able to pick up multiple meals at distributions throughout the week.

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 I, teachers are encouraged to utilize their classrooms to deliver virtual instruction. This will ensure the availability of updated technology and connectivity as the majority of classrooms have recently been equipped with new teacher desktops and with new cameras that have built-in microphones. Teachers, however, will also have the option and flexibility to teach from home.

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.

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: