A group of parents in Broward County protested Tuesday at the county’s school board meeting with what they say is a simple demand: a return to full time school, five days a week inside buildings across the county despite the coronavirus pandemic.
The group, Broward Parents for the Return to School, created a Facebook page with over 3,000 members and held a demonstration during the previously planned workshop.
“We all need to come back," said Loren Corrales, a teacher in Broward who supports the option of 100 percent in-class instruction. "Obviously, it wouldn’t be the same as before because we will need to take precautions like maybe less transitioning in the hallways.”
”I’m advocating for choice. I want the choice to have my kids return five days a week into the classroom,” said Jaclyn Strauss, a Fort Lauderdale resident with two students in the school system, during an interview with NBC 6 on Monday. “I would never want anyone to feel forced. My feeling is that it’s not a danger to my children.”
The district set a date of August 19 for reopening schools last week, with students likely to receive a blend of in-class instruction and distance learning when the school year starts.
“Things aren’t changing these past four days,” said Broward Teachers Union President Anna Fusco. “There’s been a serious rise in cases. It’s stressful.”
Fusco says she does believe the parents have a valid point: that their kids are at a breaking point.
Superintendent Robert Runcie said the goal is to have students receive at least 50% of their learning time inside a classroom.
“We know that whatever we do it won’t be ideal because the only ideal thing is to open schools at 100% and if we felt we could do that and balance all the health and safety requirements I wouldn’t be here in front of you," Runcie said during a meeting last week.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is strongly supporting bringing children back to school for the fall. The group says by being out of school, kids lose access to behavioral and mental health support, food programs and face social isolation while adding kids without technical means at home are falling behind.
School officials are not expected to make a final decision for at least several weeks and maybe as long as one month.