FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie is targeting Oct. 5 for a return to in-person learning.
Runcie said in a virtual school board meeting Tuesday that he will make that recommendation during the Sept. 22 workshop to determine the district’s plans for reopening classrooms amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Teachers, meanwhile, are seeking more details on safety measures after learning that they will be required to come back to campus or take leave.
Schools in Broward and Miami-Dade have been given the green light to welcome back students as those counties join Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan this week.
Parents will still be able to decide whether their children go back to school in person or continue with online learning.
“It’s very exciting,” said parent Sarah Mulligan, whose daughter wants to return to the classroom. “I know that she’s going to be super excited to be in there on the first day.”
But not everybody is so excited. Local 10 News has also learned that, once physical schools open, teachers will no longer be allowed to work from home, which has some questioning how prepared the district will be with health precautions.
Local 10 obtained a copy of the memo sent by Jeff Moquin, the superintendent’s chief of staff, which says teachers will have to return to school and teach in the classroom — or decide to take leave.
“In order to optimize the likelihood of a successful transition, it will be necessary for all teachers to return to the physical campus and provide synchronous instruction,” the memo, sent Monday, reads in part.
The memo also says, “teachers who are unable to physically return to the campus due to medical circumstance will need to avail themselves of any applicable leave for which they qualify.”
Anna Fusco, president of Broward Teachers Union, says teachers want to know what they’re going back to in terms of safety.
She says details still haven’t been hashed out.
“What they did yesterday was unprofessional, inconsiderate and just reckless,” Fusco said. “What does social distancing look like? What are the safety measures? What is the cleanliness? What is the air quality?”
A replay of much of today’s school board meeting can be seen below:
Broward County School Board members meet following start of Phase 2 reopening
WATCH LIVE: Broward County School Board members meet following start of Phase 2 reopeningPosted by WPLG Local 10 on Tuesday, September 15, 2020
Runcie said those teachers will be needed in classrooms as the students come back.
“It is our job to have staff in place so that those students who need and want to come back ... are able to come back to learn,” he said.
Runcie said that lower COVID-19 positivity rates are driving the decision and noted that several safety measures will be in place when schools open, including:
- Daily cleaning and disinfection protocols to be followed
- Physical distancing, health and safety messages placed in schools
- Everyone will be required to wear masks and sanitize their hands
Broward County teachers are receiving a survey in which they are given two options: Come back or take leave. (See the survey at the bottom of this page.)
“The district recognizes that not all employees will be able to return to their worksites and requests for accommodations or appropriate leaves will be considered,” Runcie said.
The school board still has to vote on that proposed Oct. 5 date after further discussion in the Sept. 22 workshop.
Students in the Florida Keys returned to classrooms Monday, giving a glimpse of what school could look like elsewhere in South Florida in the coming weeks.
Broward students started the new school year Aug. 19 with online classes.
A copy of Moquin’s email regarding teachers returning to classrooms can be seen below:
A look at the survey Broward teachers are being sent: