What to Know
- Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie is recommending a school reopening date of Oct. 5
- Runcie is expected to make the recommendation to the school board at a Sept. 22 meeting
- Students will be allowed to return for face-to-face instruction five days a week, but the eLearning option will still be available for students who want to remain at home
The superintendent of Broward County Public Schools is recommending the physical reopening of schools for Oct. 5.
Superintendent Robert Runcie announced his recommendation during a virtual school board meeting Tuesday morning.
Runcie said recent downward trends in coronavirus figures and other factors are making the return to in-person learning safer.
"The gating criteria is trending down to a level where we feel it is becoming safe to reopen our schools," Runcie said.
All teaching and learning has been done virtually since the county's school year began on Aug. 19, with some teachers choosing to instruct from their classrooms and others from their homes.
On Monday, a school district official sent a memo to the board that once schools reopen, all teachers would be expected to teach students in their classrooms while simultaneously teaching those who are doing distance learning from home, and said anyone who can't meet the requirement should consider taking a leave of absence.
The teacher's union said it came as shocking news to them.
"We feel that it’s been a complete, unprofessional disrespect towards the thousands of educators and support staff that do want to go back to work and they do know they’re expected to go back to work, it’s what they’re expected to go back to work into," Broward Teacher's Union President Anna Fusco said.
Fusco said teachers haven't been provided with a clear idea of what schools and classrooms will be like, how they will be cleaned, what the protocols will be, or what personal protective equipment will be provided to teachers.
Runcie said those details are being sorted out now, and said he's confident that on Oct. 5, teachers and students will be as safe as they can make it.
He added that students on campus will have to wear masks, will still submit homework electronically, and said that there will be no science labs in classrooms.
“But the reality is that as hard as we try, and as many precautions as we put in place, we will not be able to guarantee a COVID-19 free school or classroom,” Runcie said.
Students will be allowed to return for face-to-face instruction five days a week, but the eLearning option will still be available for students who want to remain at home, Runcie said.
“I’m excited about it. I’m looking forward to it as long as they prepare the schools properly like they’re supposed to,” said Rod Velez, who formed a "learning pod" with other parents for their kids. The pod was formed as a stopgap measure until regular schools could reopen.
The recommendation by Runcie will be made at the Sept. 22 school board meeting. Runcie said a survey will be sent to parents after the meeting so they can select which learning model they prefer.
Teachers will also be surveyed about returning to physical campus.
"Teacher input is imperative at this time for us to be able to plan for staffing in order to ensure that Broward students will have educators," Runcie said. "The district recognizes that not all employees will be able to return to their work sites, and requests for accommodations or appropriate leave will be considered."