Hundreds of Miami-Dade high school students at two campuses, as well as dozens of teachers at each of those schools, have been quarantined because of increased cases of COVID-19, according to the teachers union.
The schools are Miami Senior High School and Barbara Goleman Senior High in Miami Lakes, said Karla Hernandez-Mats, president of United Teachers of Dade.
Additionally, a teacher at Palmetto Middle School in Pinecrest told the Miami Herald on Wednesday that more than 200 students and 24 teachers there are quarantined for two weeks.
Hernandez-Mats said the growing number of students and staff in Miami-Dade Schools who’ve been forced to quarantine are bringing the union closer to asking that the district return to at-home learning. The district reopened schools to in-person learning the week of Oct. 5.
“There is too much uncertainty with these high numbers,” she said.
Miami-Dade school district officials said they could not confirm the exact number of students and employees who’ve been told to quarantine because of ongoing investigations and contact tracing.
But, district spokeswoman Jaquelyn Calzadilla said it’s realistic the numbers are high because older students change classes more frequently than those in the lower grades, bringing them into contact with more people.
“To give you some context when it comes to the numbers, if one high school student tests positive who has either six or eight class periods a day with just 20 students in the class, anywhere from 120 to 180 other students could be asked to quarantine due to potential close contact,” Calzadilla said.
According to the latest coronavirus numbers listed on the Miami-Dade public schools online dashboard, Miami Senior High has seven students and two staff members who’ve tested positive. The confirmed numbers are three students at Barbara Goleman.
But, the actual numbers are likely significantly higher. That’s because cases aren’t added to the ledger until after the Florida Department of Health confirms the diagnosis.
The dashboard, according to a district fact sheet, “is a lagging indicator and is not intended for use as an immediate notification system of cases.”
Nevertheless, the dashboard is updated daily. The confirmed case count jumped from 251 Tuesday to 276 Wednesday. According to the dashboard, Monday had the most new cases since the district opened back up to in-person learning on Oct. 5 — 30 students and five employees.
According to the district, slightly more than half of all Miami-Dade’s roughly 255,000 public school students opted to return to brick-and-mortar classrooms in the beginning of the month. The rest are continuing to learn online as all students had when schools nationwide shut down in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.