Dade Schools Close Down Early Due To Quarantine, Positive Case Numbers

     Dade County Schools shut down on Friday, Dec. 11, starting Christmas break early, due to a rising number of people in quarantine because of COVID-19, as well as positive cases.
     Students at Dade County High School finished their final exams virtually on Wednesday, Dec. 16. Administration and teachers also worked through Wednesday.
     According to Superintendent Dr. Jan Irons Harris, 160 people were put into quarantine between Monday, Dec. 9 and Tuesday, Dec. 10.
     Including the quarantine number in a report sent out on Friday, Dec. 4, the total of people in quarantine was 222, with 17 positive cases.
     “We just had a lot of kids out due to being quarantined mostly,” Dr. Harris said. “We had to cancel or postpone our games like wrestling and basketball because we didn’t have enough kids to make a team.”
     Dr. Harris noted that they had expected to see an increase after Thanksgiving.
     “We recognized that the numbers have surged in the community. Next week was to be our last day and we just moved that up,” Dr. Harris said.
     According to Dr. Harris, half of the principals have had positive cases or have been in quarantine. In addition, all three of the high school administrators were out, with two of them being positive and one in quarantine.
     “We’re going to make it work. We’re keeping on,” Dr. Harris said. “We’re just filling in, but we are having a shortage of substitutes and it is getting stretched thin. The board and the leadership team just felt that things were kind of unraveling [Tuesday]. We felt it was wise to go ahead to expedite that so we can get people to isolate and get these numbers down.”
     Dr Harris also noted that the school district plans on coming back after Christmas break as usual. Another reason that lead them to decide to shut down early is that Christmas was about two weeks away, and people will be able to finish out their quarantine period and then have a good, healthy Christmas.
     “We want everyone to be able to enjoy their holidays. It just seemed like a good time to cut it off,” Dr. Harris said.
     At the moment, Dr. Harris does not believe that the early shutdown will have an impact on the school’s spring calendar, but she noted that it will be hard to say until later this winter.
     “You have to look at the number of days in its entirety to be able to determine that. Our school day is much longer than required by the state. It gives us more flexibility,” Dr. Harris said.
     There have not been many weather closures this year so far, but a determination can be made next semester toward the end of January or February.
     Dr. Harris’ time as Superintendent is coming to an end, and she noted how proud she was of everyone, during this time, and in general.
     “I want to say on a personal note, what a pleasure it has been for me to serve as their superintendent. I thank God and Dade County the Board of Education for the opportunity to work with them,” Dr. Harris said. “As far as our current situation, my message is that things are going to be better. Daylight is coming. Our team, they have done an excellent job just hanging in there. I could not be prouder of our team. Everyone keep your chin up.”
     School-wide COVID-19 numbers can be found in the weekly Superintendent Newsletters published on www.dadecountyschools.org. The newsletters are published on Mondays.

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