Broward students heading back in October

Posted at 3:51 PM, Sep 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-23 15:51:15-04

Broward county students will be back on campus on Oct. 14 and 20.

Students in pre-K, kindergarten, those in centers for students with special needs, and 1st, 2nd, 6th, and 9th graders will return to school on Oct. 14. Everyone else will go back on Oct. 20.

Superintendent Robert Runcie said that accommodations for employees and staff who have underlying health conditions and could be more severely impacted by COVID will be worked out by the end of this week.

The e-learning option will continue for those parents and students who choose to stay home.

"We can't let perfect stand in the way of good," Runcie said. "There's no guarantee we'll have ever a 100% COVID free environment. Issues will emerge and we will correct them, we'll learn from them, and we'll make adjustments as necessary."

Schools will look very different than when students left, with Plexiglas dividers, and social distancing markers on the ground being added to campus.

Schoolwork will be done differently as well. There will be no paper worksheets, shared physical text books, non-virtual science labs, or other versions of shared resources.

"We were the first district to close, and we will more than likely be the last district to reopen," Runcie said.

Broward's decision to reopen is based on "gating criteria," that has been met or will be met by Oct. 5, said Chief Safety Officer Brian Katz. These are:

  • Moving to phase 2 of reopening in the county, which has already happened
  • A decline in disease progression and positivity rates, which have been below the 5% target for several weeks
  • Ability to manage the spread
  • Health system capacity
  • District safeguards, such as PPE and enhanced cleaning supplies at schools.

Anna Fusco, president of the Broward Teacher's Union, expressed concerns the union has. While they want schools to open, they want to ensure it is as safe as possible. Fusco said since the virus hasn't gone away and people are still dying from it, schools shouldn't be reopening.

"If the nine of you and superintendent Runcie are okay with having people die on your watch, on your hands, then you guys stand up there and vote to open schools when they're not ready," she said.

There will be a final meeting on Thursday to cover remaining items.