reopenings

Broward Schools Start Classes Virtually Wednesday Amid ‘New Normal' in Pandemic

School board members approved the move last week at a special meeting, a move that has been met with some disappointment from parents who asked for the option to allow their children to return

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What to Know

  • Superintendent Robert Runcie said that schools will look at potential plans for reopening their doors every two weeks, rather than the initial plan of waiting until October
  • The district has been running webinars day and night to make sure teachers know how to use the features of virtual conferencing platforms
  • This past Sunday, some students and parents rallied outside the area’s school board building demanding for the option to participate in face-to-face learning

The first day of school for students will look a whole lot different than normal in Broward County as the district begins the year Wednesday with students learning virtually from home.

School board members approved the move last week at a special meeting, a move that has been met with some disappointment from parents who asked for the option to allow their children to return back to schools like several other counties in the state.

Superintendent Robert Runcie said that schools will look at potential plans for reopening their doors every two weeks, rather than the initial plan of waiting until October to assess reopening plans. Runcie said COVID-19 positivity rates in the county must be under 5% for at least two consecutive weeks before schools can reopen.

Educators, who returned to work last week for the first time since in-class teaching was halted last school year due to the coronavirus pandemic, also have the option to teach virtually from their classrooms, but the Broward Teachers Union’s President said limits are needed.

“We’re also trying to convince the district that people can’t come into the school or are still uncertain because bringing more people into the building, you are still bringing a possible exposure to it,” said President Anna Fusco.

The teachers have a single objective of making the e-learning experience better on both sides of the computer screen, for teachers and especially for students. 

“Since we closed down schools at the end of March, we have spent an enormous amount of time and effort in training our teachers,” said Dr. Daryl Diamond, the district’s Director of Innovative Learning. 

The district has been running webinars day and night to make sure teachers know how to use the features of virtual conferencing platform Microsoft Teams. Teachers are also learning best practices for reaching and engaging students. 

“I think that there’s so much more opportunity to be, like, creative with our students and get them talking to us as opposed to us talking the whole time,” said Ashley Henry, a language arts teacher at McNicol Middle School in Hollywood. “The goal was to make sure that we were fully prepared as teachers to take on this task, and it has been like a wealth of knowledge.”

When it comes to food, the district will still offer grab-and-go meals each day and all plans are working towards the progression from online to hybrid to in-class instruction. Meals will be provided on Wednesday and later every Tuesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at all schools in the county.

In the future, the board will continue talks about preventing the spread of COVID-19, including how to limit visitors at schools and also what protocols will be implemented for positive cases at schools and contact tracing. Busses have been cleaned and sanitized over the summer to be ready on the day they are needed.  

This past Sunday, some students and parents rallied outside the area’s school board building demanding for the option to participate in face-to-face learning.

“Choice is a right and we don’t have that right at this given moment in time,” protester Adam Herman said. “We’re not saying everyone has to go back to school. You have a choice.”

Many of the protesters at the rally felt the lack of in-person learning would contribute to education inequality, anxiety and depression.

“I struggle with many mental health issues, and school is my way of socializing and taking my mind off of that,” Sara Herman, a student, said.

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