FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – James Keith Calloway began working in Broward County Public Schools as a social studies teacher at McNicol Middle School in 1990.
He’s since gone to district headquarters to do what he calls “teaching the teachers who teach the teachers.”
Like many other educators, he’s been doing his job online after he was granted an accommodation because of the coronavirus pandemic.
But now he’s being told to go back, and he’s taken it as his cue to retire.
“It’s not worth my health,” Calloway, 58, said. “I had two and half years left. I’m in the drop program, and I, just for the sake of me and my health and my family ... the decision was made to just go ahead and retire.”
He’s not the only one.
In a memo from human resources, we’ve learned that, compared to last year, there are 12 more people taking a leave this year.
There are five more people resigning.
And the biggest increase is on retirements — with 232 additional teachers choosing that option (an increase from 108 last year to 340 this year).
“You force people back into the schools that are the most critically ill,” Broward Teachers Union President Anna Fusco said.
At Wednesday’s school board meeting, Fusco once again reminded that there are 1,100 teachers with underlying health issues who are being forced to go back to schools.
With 37% of students back to in-classroom learning, the union argues that the district should allow those teachers with underlying conditions to work from home.
Superintendent Robert Runcie said teachers are needed back in the classroom, especially for the students who are falling behind academically.
“Even if it’s only a few students in a class, those students deserve a teacher at the front of the classroom,” Runcie said Wednesday.
[WATCH: Superintendent Robert W. Runcie’s comments during Jan. 20, 2021 School Board meeting: Click here.]
The school district is coordinating with the health department of Broward to get teachers and staff who are 65 and older vaccinated in the near future. Runcie said employees will be receiving notices from the district with further instructions.
Miami-Dade Public Schools also announced Wednesday that it has partnered with the Jackson Health System to deliver COVID-19 vaccines for its employees 65 and older.
Those Miami-Dade inoculations will begin this weekend at Jackson’s three sites. District employees will be receiving additional information on how to register for an appointment.
For more details on the Broward teachers leaving this year, compared to last, click here.
To see the latest confirmed COVID-19 cases at schools across the state of Florida, click here.