As the COVID-19 crisis has developed, the Broward Public School District has developed programs not only to continue the education of students but to provide food and other services.
Providing food is especially important because many children depend on the school district for a significant portion of their meals.
School officials have already distributed 64,000 laptops to students so they can participate in online learning and another distribution event Saturday, March 28 at 8 a.m. Parents or guardians who have not already received a laptop should go to their child’s school. More information is available on each school’s website.
Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said there are four issues that the district is facing: food insecurity, the digital divide, access to quality childcare and a fragile health system.
More than 60 percent of the children attending Broward Public Schools qualify for free or reduced meals.
For many children, the schools are the only place for them to be assured of two nutritious meals, breakfast and lunch, during the school week.
Many schools offer dinner to students in aftercare programs.
Finding ways to continue feeding children is an important priority. Immediately after the schools were closed because of COVID-19, nine feeding sites were opened in the county for families to pick up meals with no questions asked.
On Monday, March 30, 47 sites all over the District will open to provide food and more locations may open if necessary, according to Runcie. Online instruction will take place through browardschools.com/learningnevercloses.
Over the past three years, the school district has been developing the capability to deliver personalized education with a blend of classroom time with teachers and online digital resources available any time and any place.
“Our Canvas Learning Management System has given us a common tool to make this possible and most of our educators have been using it for the past few years,” said Runcie.
“Canvas delivers digital versions of textbooks, links to educational programs and resources, lesson plans, and instructional materials for every grade level and subject including resources for students with special needs and those needing bilingual instruction.” It has been estimated that up to 15 percent of healthcare workers may have to stay home as schools and businesses close. This could create a hardship on an already stressed healthcare system.
To help curb the impact school closures will have on the community, Broward Schools has temporarily offered free child care at nine locations for families of emergency first responders and medical personnel. At this time, the information on the location of the sites was not made available by Broward Schools. Visit browardschools.com for more information.
Also, healthcare workers are having difficulty securing supplies. Broward Schools will begin donating medical supplies from the schools’ allied health programs and the medical programs at the three technical colleges.
Supplies will be collected from school clinics in elementary, middle and high schools. The state has cancelled all mandated examinations, including the Florida Standards Assessments and End-of Course examinations. It has not been determined how the SAT, ACT and AICE exams will be offered.
“How will we handle high school graduation ceremonies? How will clubs and activities such as peer counseling and mentoring, speech and debate, band and orchestra, theater and various athletics continue to be provided? There will be challenges and mistakes as we travel through these uncharted waters. Our promise to you is that we will fix them and find solutions to move forward,” said Runcie.