A Hispanic teenager engages in remote learning.

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The ABCs of Back to School

A simple guide to Miami-Dade County Public Schools start of school year

For all children who attend Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS), classes start remotely on Monday morning, August 31. So what will the school day look like initially? Below is a preview based on M-DCPS’s Reopen Smart/ Return Safe Guide and the full guide is here

A Typical School Day
Unlike during the spring remote learning, the school schedule from home will mirror a regular school year this time around, with elementary and K-8 Centers having classes start at 8:35 a.m. until 2:05 p.m. for kindergartners and first graders, and until 3:05 p.m. for second through fifth graders. Middle school hours are 9:10 a.m. to 3:50 p.m., with high schoolers’ remote learning going from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. At the end of Septemer, the school district will reevaluate the coronavirus pandemic in South Florida to determine whether kids go back physically to school in October or beyond. 

There will be morning announcements during the first 15 minutes of the day and your children’s class schedule will be posted on the parent and student portals, which they can access online or through an app. Parents will need their assigned PIN to access the portal and should contact their child’s school if they don’t have it. 

Specific students' schedules, including subject area instruction, lunch time and brain breaks will be determined by your child’s individual school. For your school’s contact information visit http://www.dadeschools.net/schools/schoolinformation.

Be Sure to Get the Right Nutrition
During a typical school year, many Miami-Dade school children depend on their schools for breakfast and lunch, but with remote learning those meals are not available. In its place, the school district is offering alternative food distribution with meal distributions at school sites in the afternoon after the school day ends. Students and their parents will be able to pick up multiple meals at once. For more information regarding times and locations for meals distributions visit https://parentacademymiami.com/school-meals-near-me/.

Although snacks throughout the day are warranted and could keep your child focused, remember to skip the junk food and provide sensible options for your children.

Counted as Present
Many of our children had a hard time making sure they were counted as present during our first taste of remote learning in the spring. This school year, things should be easier, but schools will also be more stringent in taking attendance and holding our children accountable if they are late or absent. 

In elementary schools, children will be marked as present if they log into their teacher’s live session at the beginning of the school day, while secondary school students must log into their teachers’ live sessions at the beginning of each class period/block. 

All students must have their cameras on throughout the day so that teachers can identify them. Students who are not logged in when attendance is taken in class, but do so at another point, will be marked tardy. If a student logs in to do their daily assignments but not to their teachers’ live sessions, they may be marked as absent. 

Device and Technology Support
Just trying to figure out what online platform teachers were using at your school was a challenge in the spring, much less familiarizing yourself with those tools. Hopefully, we’ve all become better at our online meeting skills over the past half-year, and the M-DCPS is hoping to make this year’s schooling even easier with the use of the My School Online (MSO) platform. All students in the district will be using MSO and teachers will meet with their classes exclusively using this web conference technology. The software also allows teachers to gather with students in smaller groups and individually. Other features include support services – like guidance and mental health counseling, interventions and therapies if needed. 

The school district describes MSO as similar to Zoom and it also allows students to access their lessons, interact with classmates and work on group work and projects while logged on. Teachers will also use the platform for parent and student conferences during planning periods, as well as before or after school. 
 
M-DCPS  provided training and support for parents so that they could better assist their students with technology fluency and proficiency during Week of Welcome. Many of those resources are still available, including: 

  • The Parent Academy Virtual Campus (https://parentacademymiami.com/virtualcampus/) will offer on-demand webinars in multiple languages. 
  • A "TECH TALK" program (multiple times/languages) will be aired on WLRN during the implementation of MSO, check schedule here.
  • An up-to-date page of FAQs regarding instructional technology platforms/tools will be coming soon on the District and individual school websites. 
  • The District will host live events promoting instructional technology platforms and tools via District edTV (http://www.dadeschools.net/tv/).
  • Schools may also offer site specific support. Parents should reach out to their school to understand potential options that will be available to them. In the event that a device breaks or has a hardware malfunction, families should contact the school at which their student is enrolled for directions on how to obtain a new device.