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Class of COVID-19: How 1 School For Fragile Kids With Disabilities Navigated Closures

Michael Anderson
Three students at Miami's Early Beginnings Academy are pictrured.

Every Monday, dozens of Early Beginnings Academy parents log on for a virtual town hall to get some face time with the small charter school’s principal.

During a recent event, one of the parents — an emergency room nurse at Jackson Memorial Hospital — shared her first-hand experience seeing the havoc COVID-19 wreaks on an infected person’s body.

Principal Makeesha Coleman said one reason she asked the nurse to speak to her fellow parents was to reinforce the importance of taking precautions: Avoid large groups. Wear masks. Take the virus seriously.

Coleman said two parents of students at the school have died from COVID-19. So far, though, there hasn’t been a positive case among students or staff members — except one over the summer, when the campus was closed, according to Coleman. Miami-Dade County Public Schools does not report positive cases at charter schools on its district-wide dashboard.

Coleman needs to keep cases at zero. All of her 130 students have disabilities, and about a quarter of them are medically fragile.

“During this time, I've had at least four students who have been hospitalized, two students who are currently in the hospital for surgeries,” Coleman said during an interview in mid-January.

“I serve the most significantly cognitively impacted or medically impacted students in the district.”

Find the rest of the story here.

'Class of COVID-19: An Education Crisis For Florida's Vulnerable Students' WJCT News 89.9 Special

WJCT News 89.9 will air the one-hour radio special on "The Class of COVID-19" on Friday, Feb. 19 at 8 p.m. It will also be streamed on and in the WJCT app.

'Class of COVID-19: An Education Crisis For Florida's Vulnerable Students' Jax PBS Special

WJCT-TV 7.1 will air the one-hour TV special on "The Class of COVID-19" on Monday, February 22 at 9 p.m. on antenna TV channel 7.1, Comcast channels 8 and 440. It will also be streamed on Passport and in the WJCT app. The special will encore on Wednesday, Feb. 24 at 5:00 p.m. is also running a portion of many of the stories.

WLRN education reporter Jessica Bakeman contributed reporting for this story.

This story is part of the Florida Public Media series, "Class of COVID-19: An Education Crisis For Florida's Vulnerable Students." Find the whole project — and sign up for our limited-run newsletter — at

“Class of COVID-19” is being produced through a partnership with the following public media organizations: WLRN (Miami), WGCU (Fort Myers), WFSU (Tallahassee), WUSF (Tampa), WMFE (Orlando) , WUCF (Orlando), WPBT/WXEL (Miami/Boynton Beach), WJCT (Jacksonville), WEDU (Tampa) and WUWF (Pensacola).

The project is supported in part by the Hammer Family Charitable Foundation and the Education Writers Association.