Runcie recommends Broward schools extend distance learning during coronavirus pandemic

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie is ready to challenge orders to reopen schools during the coronavirus pandemic. He said on Tuesday that he is recommending that distance learning continues as long as infections are increasing.

The virtual Broward County Public Schools’ meeting started at 10 a.m. and it will continue until 5:30 p.m. Runcie said Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration understands Broward County isn’t ready to reopen and no one has formally contacted him to discuss funding.

“That is the only way we can educate our students while keeping them and their teachers healthy,” Runcie said.

Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran’s order to reopen classrooms Aug. 19 for the 2020-2021 school year followed pressure from President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who threatened to withhold funds. DeSantis reiterated Tuesday studies show children are at a lower risk.

“Every parent has the option to make these decisions and no parent should be forced ... and if virtual is the decision then they have every right to do that,” said DeSantis said during a meeting with mayors.

The Broward Teachers Union agrees with push to reopen schools, but only if there is an investment in preventive measures. According to the School Superintendents Association, implementing safety measures at schools this fall will cost each school district about $1.8 million.

Runcie said a parents’ survey revealed about 37% of parents prefer a hybrid model of classroom instruction and remote learning, about 34% prefer classroom instruction and 26% prefer remote learning. Runcie said he is hopeful the district will eventually be able to offer these options.

Runcie will be discussing his decision during a virtual meeting at 6 p.m., on July 22, with members of the Broward County Council Parent Teacher Association/Parent Teacher Student Association.

Local 10 News reached out to Miami-Dade County Schools to see if they had any comment regarding the recommendation in Broward.

Their full statement can be read below:

“Earlier this afternoon, Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho met with Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and select local health experts to examine the best possible metrics and criteria to make an informed, science-driven decision about the safe reopening of schools, at the appropriate time. We recognize that the ideal way to educate children is face-to-face in a classroom setting, however the safety and well-being of our students and employees remain among our top priorities, and local conditions and health considerations are of paramount importance. We look forward to continuing the conversation and making the soundest decisions regarding our reopening.”

DeSantis discusses reopening schools with Miami-Dade mayors

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