BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – The Broward County School Board voted unanimously on Thursday to start the gradual reopening of schoolhouses on Oct. 9. The first teacher planning day will be on Oct. 8.
School Board members decided not to reopen schoolhouses on Monday, as Miami-Dade County Public Schools is planning on doing. Their decision was made despite concerns from parents, teachers and administrators who fear the risks of crowding indoors during the coronavirus pandemic.
Before the vote, Broward County Superintendent Robert Runcie told school board members there was a significant amount of funding on the table if they didn’t start the staggered reopenening on Oct. 9.
Some teachers have said they are worried about the number of students that will be registered per classroom. They fear that the social distancing guideline by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be impossible to follow if the square footage doesn’t add up.
Epidemiologists have warned children are at less risk of experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, but they are still able to get infected and become virus carriers. Pediatric healthcare providers have reported hospitalization is rare, but 1 in 3 hospitalized was in the intensive care unit.
Students with health conditions or who live with people who are at risk of dying of complications with COVID-19 will still be able to continue distance learning. The teachers will be the same in both classrooms in school and distance learning, and students in both home and on-campus will follow the same class schedule, according to the district’s latest plan.
The Florida Department of Health has already started to track COVID-19 cases associated with schools that have already reopened.
Here is Runcie’s new reopening schedule:
Oct. 9 (Friday): Students in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, first grade and second grade
Oct. 13 (Tuesday): Students in grades 3-6 and ninth-grade students
Oct. 15 (Thursday): Students in grades 7, 8, 10 and 12
This is an image the district presented to the school board members:
OPPOSITION TO OCT. 9 REOPENING
The Broward Teachers Union held a news conference before the school board’s emergency meeting on Thursday to talk about concerns that school administrators are not prepared to open schools safely. The union had opposed the originally planned Oct. 14 reopening day.
BTU President Anna Fusco said teachers were asking school board members not to cave to political pressure coming from Gov. Ron DeSantis' and President Donald Trump administrations amid the upcoming Nov. 3 election.
“It doesn’t make any sense,” Fusco said. “I personally feel that we need to stand up, and I don’t want to say to call his bluff, but to say, ‘No! It’s six school days to give extra protection to make sure that our schools open safely and with help.’”
Click here to view supporting documents that relate to the school district’s reopening plan.