The staggered reopening of Broward County Public Schools continued Tuesday with grades 3, 4, 5, 6 and 9 able to return to school if they chose that option.
So it was a big day for high schools, with freshmen coming to their campuses for the first time. Those who did felt like the few, the proud, the in-person learners.
“I’m definitely excited to be back, it’s exciting, especially as it’s my first year in high school,” said Violet Roberts, a freshman at Fort Lauderdale High School.
Pickup was a breeze this afternoon at her school. That’s what happens when only freshmen are on campus, and only a small percentage of ninth graders have chosen the classroom over e-learning at home.
137 students went to class at Fort Lauderdale High Tuesday. Their teachers are instructing the kids in front of them and the ones at home simultaneously. I spoke to four teachers, none of them had any issues with doing synchronous teaching or with being in the classroom teaching students in person.
“We are trying to keep the education equitable, whether they’re at home or they’re here, the lessons will be the same, the students on campus are getting to see some of their friends and associate and socialize with their teachers so in that aspect it’s a wonderful experience for the students that have decided to return to campus,” said Erin Brown, the principal of Fort Lauderdale High. “It’s just such an amazing feeling to have our scholars back on our campus.”
All of the Broward County Public Schools have strict COVID-prevention protocols. Sanitizer, wipes and signs are everywhere, reminding students of the rules.
“But most importantly, the kids are actually following protocols and following instructions so hats off to the parents for preparing their students for the return to campus,” said Richard Dunbar, physical education teacher and the school’s football coach.
“Of course, you know corona, there’s the worry that’s there but so far they’ve done everything right, everyone has to wear masks, you’re not allowed to take them off,” Violet said.
Of course the jury is still out on whether this experiment of bringing kids back to the schoolhouse during a pandemic will be successful but so far, we got thumbs up from the teachers and students to whom we’ve spoken.
“Everyone is taking it seriously, everyone is wearing their masks, all of the rooms are set up so we do have social distancing,” said English teacher Patrick Redmond. “It feels like everything is a normal school day given the sort of not normal circumstances we’re in.”
There’s plenty of space to spread out in classrooms, hallways, and everywhere else on campus.
“We have put an extensive amount of work into making sure that our campus is safe,” Brown said.
Even on Thursday, when 10th, 11th, and 12th graders can come back, Brown is expecting only about 500 students on campus. Other high schools are reporting similar numbers across the county, with the school district saying slightly more than 20% of all students have chosen the in-person learning option.