70+ Broward teachers leaving; union slams relaxed social distancing at schools

37% of district’s students now back in the physical classroom

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – In Broward County, more than 70 teachers have decided to quit or retire. The three-page list is part of Wednesday’s school board agenda and comes as the Broward Teachers Union speaks out against what they say is a relaxation of social distancing measures in the county’s public schools.

On the list are 34 teachers leaving are from elementary schools, 17 from high schools, 12 from middle schools and 9 others from mixed-grade schools

Gator Run Elementary in Weston has four teachers either retiring or resigning, the most of any school on the list.

Broward Superintendent Robert Runcie said Tuesday he was not surprised by the number, saying it represents only a slight increase in retirements from a normal year.

“There is certainly a lot of stress, fear and anxiety about the moment we’re in. I absolutely understand that,” Runcie said.

Also on Tuesday, Broward Teachers Union President Anna Fusco said educators fear returning to physical classrooms, especially for those teachers who have critical illnesses.

“We’re not just gonna sit here and continue to be stifled when we’re just looking for the safety and security of all,” Fusco said at a news conference that preceded Runcie’s.

The union brought parents, students, and education leaders — who were supportive of those teachers and concerned about cramming too many kids in the classroom.

“We are concerned about the health of our parents, of our students and our teachers,” parent John Escobar said.

Rocco Diaz, a Fort Lauderdale High School senior, added: “For me as a student, aside from the fact that we need to fight for teachers to have the human right to be able to teach from home, it all goes into challenging the consensus that fast reopening won’t quicken the spread of COVID.”

Runcie said 37% of the district’s students are now back in the physical classroom.

He assured that the schools will try to follow the guidelines as best as they can and said “our schools are not sources of secondary transmission” for COVID-19.

Runcie also reiterated that a lot of these issues could be helped if teachers were put at the front of the line for COVID-19 vaccines, which Gov. Ron DeSantis hasn’t been willing to do as he has prioritized senior citizens and frontline healthcare workers.

You can watch replays of both news conferences below:

Broward teachers speak out on relaxed social distancing rules

Broward Teachers Union President Anna Fusco is holding a news conference to express “outrage and grave concerns” over what the union says are relaxed social distancing guidelines at the county’s public schools.

Posted by WPLG Local 10 on Tuesday, January 19, 2021
Broward Superintendent Robert Runcie news conference

Runcie is expected to speak about teacher accommodations, student achievement, social distancing in schools, and COVID-19 vaccinations for teachers and staff. It comes minutes after the teachers' union held a press conference sharing concerns about a lack of social distancing at schools.

Posted by WPLG Local 10 on Tuesday, January 19, 2021

See the list of teachers planning to leave the district:

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