Public school students begin returning to classrooms in Broward County

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – Public school students in Pre-K through Second grade, as well as ESE students, returned to physical classrooms Friday in Broward County.

Students in third through sixth grade, as well as ninth grade, will go back next Tuesday, and the rest of the grade levels, seventh, eighth, and 10th through 12th will return to campuses next Thursday.

“We’re nervous a little bit, but again, happy to have the kids be social,” one parent, Kim Nick, said.

“(We’re) a little bit scared, I’ve got to say, but I think it’s necessary. I think they really need it,” another parent, Diana Guillen, said. “They really miss that one-on-one and online, although it’s been a great substitute for the situation, it’s not the same.”

As students at Fox Trail Elementary School hauled their backpacks into school, they walked past new COVID-19 safeguards, like sanitizing stations and marked spaces for social distancing -- all part of the district’s plan to keep everyone safe.

“Today, we’re starting with a full day, but Monday is going to be a half day. Before we even phase in our next group of students, we’ll have another half day after their first full day, so it’s really giving us an opportunity for this learning curve,” Broward County School Board Chair Donna Korn said.

Korn and Superintendent Robert Runcie started their day early on Friday, first at the Central Area Terminal, where drivers grabbed their busses to start their first routes of the school year.

The district expects they could be transporting up to 22,000 students on Friday, and despite having to push their reopening date up a few days, the superintendent said they’re prepared.

“What I’ve seen in our schools, what I know that our staff and our administrators and teachers have been doing, we’re ready to receive our students,” he said. “They’re ready to make any adjustments required.”

Earlier this week, district officials gave a rundown of the changes students and staff members can expect to see.

“Our classrooms are going to be equipped with sanitizer, gels, wipes, all of the precautions that you know are recommended by the CDC,” Runcie said.

During a stop Tuesday at Hollywood Park Elementary School, administrators showed off the spaced out desks and new plexiglass barriers.

The district has also hired more nurses.

“For the first time in this district, we have a nurse in every single school. Many schools will have two or more nurses,” Runcie said.

Another change students will notice is that each classroom now has a maximum capacity limit, as well as a sign in and sign out sheet, which everyone who enters must fill out.

There are six Broward public schools that are not reopening at this time because of either construction or electrical issues.

Those schools are Eagle Point Elementary, Gulfstream K-8 Academy, Oakridge Elementary, Royal Palm Elementary, Walker Elementary and Rickards Middle School.

Parents of children who go to those schools should have heard from the district about a different reopening date.

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