Entering hallways will be replaced with entering a log-in for the first day of school at all Broward County public schools next week.
The school board held a special meeting Tuesday to review reopening plans before giving final approval. The district said changes will bring more structure to their distance learning program.
One major initiative is help for parents juggling full-time jobs while trying to accommodate their child’s online learning. The district plans on working with local community organizations to find placement for kids. A potential cost has not been decided yet.
Broward Schools 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.
The district also announced streamlined school start times this year for elementary, middle and high school students. Also, live interactions with teachers will be delivered largely through Microsoft Teams. Educators also have the option to teach virtually from their classrooms, but the Broward Teachers Union 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 BTU President Anna Fusco.
Fusco is also concerned that, to the union’s knowledge, there has not been a mock trial of the district’s learning plan with an actual student.
“This expectation of five hours on screen time is just unrealistic for any age group, even adults,” said Fusco.
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. The district says every detail matters when it comes to preventing the spread of COVID-19 for all students including those with special needs.
“Those protocols are in place and the resources are the same for our students with non-disabilities, but at the same time possibly having unique experiences and equipment for those individuals and the staff so that they have what is needed,” said one of the Exceptional Student Education Directors, Saemone Hollingsworth.
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.