The bell rings, and the hallways of South Broward High School come to life, with everyone moving in the same direction: toward keeping students and teachers safe on campus.
“Oh it’s awesome, this is what we’re here for, we’re here to serve and we’re here to serve our students and it’s very exciting that they’re here,” said principal Patty Brown.
In Broward County Public Schools, freshmen came to school first, on Tuesday, while the other grades came back today.
They noticed a host of changes in every school, such as directional signs in every hallways, reminders to keep socially distanced and to wash or sanitizer hands, everyone wearing masks, and single desks have replaced big tables in the cafeteria.
They also realize there are advantages to being in front of their teachers.
“For me it’s been a lot easier, I’ve been able to pay attention more and just being on campus makes it feel more like school,” said freshman Sydney Mazor.
“It’s a lot easier to be back on campus because it’s easier access to your teachers,” said senior Travis Burke.
If you’re concerned about social distancing, you should see the AP calculus class. One solitary student decided to come back, while the rest of the class was learning from home. However, Brown is expecting the numbers to increase when the second quarter begins next Tuesday.
The district says less than 25% of students at all levels have come back for in-person learning. At high schools, the number is about 15%.
“And so from a safety standpoint, given the numbers that we have it becomes relatively easy for us to maintain protocols around physical distancing and every other safety measure that we need to put in place,” said superintendent Robert Runcie, pointing out the advantages of fewer students returning.
When students come to school but their teachers are teaching from home, they go to the overflow room for that class period, where they can do their online learning with faculty supervision. Every high school has set aside an auditorium or gymnasium space for this purpose.
Most teachers have come back to their classrooms, but Runcie says more than 3,000 have asked to teach from home because of health concerns.
The superintendent says the district is trying its best to prevent outbreaks on campus which could force a school to shut down, but says it’s probably an inevitability.
“Yeah it’s probably gonna happen, we haven’t had any yet, we’ve had I think about eight cases so far, three of those cases happened before we opened school and they were staff,” Runcie said.
Runcie added that yesterday, the health department notified the district that a middle school student had tested positive.
“The mother indicated that she’s got to go to work and she’s got other obligations and she’s gonna send the children to school anyway, we can’t do that,” Runcie said. “What happens outside of school with our families is gonna be a big driver in our ability to keep schools open.”
That’s the goal now, keeping schools open. There’s plenty of room in the high schools for more students to come on board.