Public schools face obstacles as they reopen

One school still doesn’t have power. Air conditioning may work on one part of campus, but not another. Power might blip on and off through the day.

Despite the obstacles, Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho announced Sunday that public schools will reopen Monday for the first time since before Hurricane Irma threatened to hit South Florida. Broward County Public Schools also will open on Monday, the district announced on Saturday.

“We believe we are ready to open the public schools ... on the basis of a number of considerations, all driven by safety and security and our ability to supervise our youngsters,” Carvalho said. He said schools were the “safest, most secure place for kids” right now.

One school, Richmond Heights Middle School, won’t have power. After reporting to that building Monday morning, the Richmond Heights students will be led by teachers to Coral Reef High School for classes.

As in Broward, Miami-Dade schools will offer not only the free breakfast available to all students, but a free lunch until further notice. All tardies and absences for Monday will be considered excused. Wednesday remains an early release day. Thursday is a teacher planning day, which falls on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

“Conditions will be very different than anything we’ve experienced before,” Carvalho said. “Expect some school classrooms to be blocked off because they need some additional cleaning” from windows that blew in during the storm.

Carvalho said no school suffered serious damage.

While some parents sighed in relief, students and other parents unleashed an online fusillade of criticism. They tweeted objections, citing homes still without power. The fuming flowed over into the comments section adjacent to Carvalho’s Sunday afternoon streamed news conference:

“You tweeted we had school, then listed seven reasons we shouldn’t have school,” said Marco97111, who also asked how students living in powerless homes were supposed to do the online homework.

A freshman at Mourning Senior High School, Maia Lacroze, created a petition at arguing against Monday’s reopening of schools. As of 5 p.m. Sunday, over 2,300 had signed.

Noting the lack of power and air conditioning still facing many homes, Lacroze wrote, “How are people going to rest up through the Miami heat? These severe conditions are not suitable for living — how does Miami-Dade expect us to be up and ready in the early a.m.?”

Each school’s principal will decide on the resumption of extracurricular activities, including athletics.

Some bus routes will be combined because of debris still on streets. And some traffic lights and school zone lights are not working. With that in mind, Carvalho recommended parents walk children to bus stops or to schools, if possible.

Broward County has asked people to report malfunctioning school lights by emailing with the location and exact problem, i.e., “not working” “flickering,” etc.

Private schools Christopher Columbus High School, Miami Country Day School and Gulliver Schools each announced they will reopen Monday.

Broward announced late Sunday morning that power has been restored to all its schools, including the ones with little or no power on Saturday (Attucks Middle School, Pompano Beach Middle School, Piper High School), allowing all schools and officers to operate on a normal schedule Monday.

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal