July 14, 2020
At the School Board Meeting of July 15, 2020, School Board Vice Chair Dr. Steve Gallon III will ask the School Board to approve Board Agenda Item H-12, Parental Training and Support for Digital Learning, to provide training for parents on the effective and efficient use of distance/digital learning and related platforms in preparation for the 2020-2021 school year.
The Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) remains committed to the education, health, safety, and overall welfare of its students, employees, parents, and community stakeholders. As the district, state, nation, and world continue to grapple with negative consequences and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increased and intensified focus on the reopening of schools and the role that distance/digital learning and related platforms will play in the education of students at home.
The sudden, unanticipated closure of school campuses and transition to distance learning beginning March 16, 2020, compelled parents and guardians to assume the roles of teachers and serve as deliverers of instruction. This was done with little to no time to prepare and with little to no formalized, structured training and/or support, and exposed conspicuous, commonly known chasms and technological disparities between the “haves and have-nots.”
On July 6, 2020, the Florida Commissioner of Education issued Executive Order 2020-EO-06 on directing that all public schools be opened for the 2020-2021 school year, beginning this fall. The Executive Order specified that districts must open brick and mortar schools at least five days a week for all students subject to local health conditions and/or guidance from the Florida Department of Health. School Reopening would be preceded by and subject to the approval of a reopening plan submitted by each school district. It also provides for parental election of distance/digital educational options for their children.
Recently, Florida has experienced a dramatic spike in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases —placing it among the highest in the nation. Miami-Dade County presently leads the state in these numbers. In fact, on Sunday, July 12, 2020 Florida would break U.S. state records with 15,300 and see its second highest daily record the very next day with 12,624 new cases, with Miami-Dade County leading with a staggering 67,713 total confirmed cases with a positivity rate exceeding 28 percent.
These trends raise the likelihood of an increased demand for parents to access distance/digital learning options for their children for the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year. Doing so will require a more strategic, deliberate, and thoughtful plan of action around training and related support for parents in not only the use of distance/digital learning platforms and technologies, but also in establishing daily routines and activities to ensure maximum engagement of their children in meaningful, structured learning activities. Ultimately, these combined efforts will improve the quality of the distance/digital learning experiences for parents, teachers, and students, and more importantly, student learning and achievement during these educationally challenging times.
“Clearly, the district has done a great job in the provision of technological and other resources for parents and their children. However, knowledge and capacity are the most important resources with which we must equip parents and guardians, especially those from underserved families and communities,” Dr. Gallon stated.
“While there is continued public and political posturing and pontificating around the reopening of schools, there are real families, real children, and real parents in a state of panic around the need for training, support, and assistance in the education of their children through distance/digital learning.”