Safety, teacher vacancies top of mind as school is about to start in South Florida

Schools and law enforcement agencies are gearing up for the first day of school in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – Summer is winding down and school is just around the corner!

There’s just one more day until the first bell rings in Broward County, and students in Miami-Dade County go back on Wednesday. Students in Monroe County already went back to classrooms last Thursday.

As this new school year starts, there are a lot of changes coming to the classroom.

It’s been a long summer, but the work was put in to make this a very smooth year, including by having active shooter training days ahead of school to make sure law enforcement is ready.

“We train so that we don’t get it wrong,” Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony said.

The district also recruited a number of bus drivers, and completed dry runs practicing routes to pick up close to 6,000 kids.

“This year we are starting with qualified candidates and we are 100 percent satisfied that all of our routes are covered,” said Broward Schools Transportation Asst. Director Simone Clowers.

Following several years of pandemic-related classroom disruptions, there will still be some hurdles to climb, such as filling teacher vacancies and learning loss.

However Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Vickie Cartwright is optimistic for the year ahead.

“By honing in on that and really setting the bar high, we know that our students will rise to those expectations,” she said.

Then there’s the fourth largest school district in the United States – Miami-Dade County Public Schools – whose students return to class a day later, on Wednesday.

Just like in Broward, safety is top of mind in Miami-Dade.

Earlier this month, the new superintendent promised that school threats will be taken seriously, adding that the district will also focus on mental health. His message was clear to educators -- connect with and inspire students. Miami-Dade County Public Schools hired more than 500 new teachers, but there are still a number of vacancies that need to be filled.

“It’s about retention,” Superintendent Jose Dotres said. “We want to make sure that the teachers that we have hired, we are able to keep them.”

About the Author:

Joseph Ojo joined Local 10 in April 2021. Born and raised in New York City, he previously worked in Buffalo, North Dakota, Fort Myers and Baltimore.