Miami Dade College has set a Sept. 14 deadline to decide whether to resume face-to-face classes this fall, according to a YouTube video from Executive Vice-President and Provost Lenore Rodicio posted on Aug. 20.
The message comes less than two weeks before the fall semester starts on Sept. 1. On July 20, the College announced it would start the semester remotely with the possibility of returning to limited face-to-face classes by Sept. 28.
“While this virus has been difficult to manage and we anxiously await a vaccine, it’s time to start planning a return to life on campus,” Rodicio said in the video.
To return to some campus-based instruction, Miami-Dade County would need to report less than a 10% coronavirus positivity rate for 15 days and cases must be trending downward, Rodicio said.
If the College does not start face-to-face classes by September, Rodicio said: “We will remain in a remote modality through the end of the term in December.”
But if the campus reopens, the College will adhere to strict safety measures. Everyone who enters the school grounds will be required to wear a mask. They will be administered a temperature check and asked whether they’ve had any coronavirus-related symptoms or traveled anywhere in the last 14 days.
Social distancing will be practiced in the classroom with desks spaced out and courses will be taught on a rotating schedule. Rooms will be limited to 10-15 students, and will be cleaned in between classes and at the end of the day.
“I’m hopeful that the Miami-Dade County positivity rate will continue to decline below 10%, however, it’s an unpredictable situation, so it’s everyone’s responsibility to follow local public health orders by wearing a mask and respecting social distancing guidelines,” Rodicio said.
However, the United Faculty of Miami Dade College has been critical of MDC for considering reopening this fall. They wrote a letter on July 21 admonishing the College, saying it’s “unsafe and ill-advised” to consider returning on campus.
This summer, the College is offering a limited number of classes—24 courses—that can’t be replicated online in-person. They include massage therapy, veterinary technology, clinical lab science, aviation, engineering, fashion, law enforcement, child care classes and more. More than half of them are being held at the Medical Campus
On July 13, a health science professor sent an email to a group of Medical Campus students taking a face-to-face class advising them to self-quarantine because they might have been exposed to the coronavirus by someone who tested positive.
Elizabeth Ramsay, president of the UFMDC, said that reopening the campus will bring health and pedagogical consequences.
“I just have an overwhelming sense of regret,” Ramsay said. “I am terrified of the health implications of returning to campus before there’s a vaccine. [We need] to recognize that the plan that’s in place now is not a good idea.
Rodicio said in her video message today that the College will deploy a contact tracing COVID-19 self reporting tool that will be accessible through the MDC app by Sept. 14.
The College has also set up a coronavirus webpage to assist students with questions they have.
“Miami Dade [College] has taken its time. They’ve done the research and they’ve been talking to local officials,” said Kendall Campus Student Government Association President Anthony Valenzuela. “I think that [the plan to decide by Sept. 14] is a phenomenal idea. It’s really well structured in my opinion, because they’re taking their time with it and they’re not rushing to conclusions.”