Broward Parents Protest Distance Learning During School Board Meeting

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They made their point with signs, chants and by explaining their own experiences as parents. They want their kids to physically attend school five days a week. 

“The kids being at home, that’s not working, they‘re not learning,” said Lorin Corrales, who is also a teacher. 

“And they need to learn face to face with the teacher,” added Valeria de la Taba, mother of two. “In the last few months they were at home, the level of learning decreased big time.”

Dozens of parents turned out for the demonstration in front of the Broward County Public Schools headquarters building Tuesday morning, and then some spoke during the School Board’s virtual workshop meeting. 

The Board was discussing the options for next school year: distance learning only, a hybrid model in which students alternate between staying at home and going to class and a return to full time insurrection in the classroom. 

“Let’s do the best we can and the best we can do is not a hybrid model, it’s simple, five days a week, all in, or you’re out, distance learning,” said parent Jacqueline Strauss to the Board during the meeting.

The parents attending the protest take the position that children are less vulnerable to COVID19, schools can be made safe with social distancing and sanitizing measures, and kids are safer in school full time compared to going to a day care center two or three times a week and then going back to school. 

Jen has two kids in elementary school and no family help at home.

“My job cannot be done 100% remote and as a sole caretaker of them, that’s not an option for me not to have them go back to school,” said Jen.

The demonstrators point to a recent position paper issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics which says in part, “the AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with the goal of having students physically present in school” for a variety of reasons. 

Broward Schools superintendent Robert Runcie told the Board he has read the AAP’s paper, but he also has to consider the needs of the adults on every campus, many of whom have health issues which make them more susceptible to Covid19. 

“We have to take that into account as well because if large portions of our staff start getting sick, we’ll open up the school but there won’t be anybody there to deliver any kind of service to them so we gotta be really smart and thoughtful about this,” Runcie said during the meeting. 

The Broward Teachers Union supports the full time school model, but only if social distancing and other precautions are instituted. 

“I want the parents to know that nobody is ignoring your needs and wants but they want to make a plan for however we come back into school physically that is done right, it’s done with social distancing, it’s done with the safety and health needs of not just the students but all employees,” said BTU president Anna Fusco. 

The school district is waiting on every parent to complete a survey asking them which model they prefer for their children. 

During today’s meeting, the principal of Cypress Bay High School told the Board that her campus can’t even accommodate half of its student body if social distancing measures are put in place, and the principal of Plantation High School said 50% of her students would have to opt for distance learning in order to accommodate the hybrid schooling model. 

So the Board will have to strike a balance between safety for students and teachers and the best instructional model. No decisions have yet been made.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that students will have to wear face coverings next year if they can’t stay 6 feet away from their classmates. 

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