UPDATE: SBBC held an emergency meeting on Thursday, October 1 to further discuss the reopening plan.
Now, Pre-K, kindergarten, first grade, sixth grade, ninth grade and Exceptional Student Education (ESE) students will return to face-to-face learning on October 9, if they decide to go back to campus.
Students in grades three to sixth as well as ninth grade can return on October 13, with all other students in grades seven to 12 returning on October 15.
See the new school year calendar dates here.
Pre-K, kindergarten, first grade, sixth grade, ninth grade and Exceptional Student Education (ESE) students would return in groups starting on October 14 and until October 16. All students in other grade levels would return on October 20 if they decide to go back to campus.
The original target date for starting to invite students back to campus and begin some form of face-to-face instruction was October 5. However, SBBC has determined that all students will be able to return to face-to-face learning by October 20 if they choose.
While it was confirmed that the current eLearning system will continue with some improvements, families will now have two options for their students’ education: students can stay doing eLearning at home or they can physically attend school and engage in eLearning within their classrooms.
This plan also brings some additional changes to students both staying at home and physically going to school. Students who wish to return to their physical classrooms would be required to wear facial coverings on school grounds. Although masks will be provided by the district, it will be in limited quantities and most students may have to bring their own masks. In regards to learning, students will be expected to either bring their own devices or district-issued devices to-and-from school every day.
Additionally, all schools will revert to their regular start and end times, so all students– no matter if they’re staying at home or going back to campus– will have to readapt to their old schedules. For CCHS students, the school day will begin at 7:40 a.m. and end at 2:40 p.m.
For CCHS students, the school day will begin at 7:40 a.m. and end at 2:40 p.m.
Teachers are also mandated to go back to their classrooms and give “synchronous” instruction to students both online and in-person there, or seek leave if they refuse to do so. BCPS surveyed teachers and classroom support professionals regarding this policy, and on September 22, data from about 5,400 respondents showed that around 1,400 (26%) intend to seek leave. Out of the total respondents, around 3,600 teachers filled out the survey, and about 1,200 (32%) intend to seek leave.
With all of these changes, the plan was faced with backlash from students, parents, faculty and staff alike. CCHS sophomore Nicole Nadler began an online petition, urging the county to reevaluate their plans in light of teachers’ well-being. The petition has now amassed over 7,700 signatures.
“I believe that the school board’s decision to force teachers to go back to school is idiotic and unfair. The school board does not consider teachers in any regard and it is disturbing that some of the main contributors of the school board are not accounted for,” Nadler said. “So, I decided to start my petition so that the teachers who did not feel comfortable being forced to go to in-person school, or face receiving zero pay, feel that they have a voice and say with their lives and bodies.”
While members of the Broward County community were able to submit public comments to the meeting via a Microsoft Form, SBBC dedicated solely 30 minutes to hearing a couple out of more than 600 comments received.
Broward Teachers Union (BTU) president Anna Fusco was allowed five minutes to speak for Broward County teachers regarding their opinions on the opening of schools next month. The frustration from Broward County teachers was clearly expressed by Fusco, who used her allotted time to touch on some of the concerns held by teachers and staff.
“When people start dying, then start getting ready for the repercussions,” Fusco said.
Fusco explained how she has witnessed items such as filing cabinets removed from classrooms in order to squeeze in more desks, despite an estimated 14 students being able to sit in classrooms following social distancing guidelines.
“You cannot sit here and say whole-heartedly, with integrity, that we are ready to open.”Broward Teachers Union (BTU) president Anna Fusco
“At the end of the day, people’s lives do matter,” Fusco said. “You cannot sit here and say whole-heartedly, with integrity, that we are ready to open.”
A survey for all BCPS students and their parents/guardians regarding the finalized in-person opening dates has been posted on students’ Clever dashboard and must be completed by Tuesday, September 29. Families must indicate whether or not they’ll be physically returning to school, and the district will make further decisions for reopening depending on these results. More details with be forthcoming as schools determine the number of their students who plan to return to campus.
“I think whatever criteria needs to be formulated and put in place throughout the county to ensure that… the data respects what our parents wishes are,” District Two School Board Member Patricia Good said. “We’re gonna need to do that.”
Disclaimer: Nicole Nadler is also a staff writer for The Lariat.
Photo by The Lariat Photography