Broward Schools to open with e-learning
The Broward County School Board and Superintendent Robert Runcie continue to plan for an online opening of schools on Aug. 19.
Runcie has said it would be unsafe for students, teachers and staff to return to school buildings unless the coronavirus is under control.
“It is my recommendation that we reopen 100 percent e-learning only,” said Runcie. “The fact is we would all like to get back to normal but for now normal has been within the context of COVID-19.”
He said the safety of students and school personnel is the number one priority. Once COVID-19 has been reduced to an acceptable level, the superintendent said a mix of online and face to face learning would be implemented.
During a recent workshop, Runcie said that the e-learning format will be different from the final weeks of the spring term when school was forced online with little preparation.
Teachers have received extensive training on e-learning tools and strategies to improve the quality of student engagement. Teachers will engage in an e-learning environment as school is being offered in morning and evening sessions. Also, students are receiving laptops from Broward Schools and efforts are being made to provide low cost internet connectivity.
Teachers will be allowed to host online classes from their classrooms if they choose.
School Board member Nora Rupert said she believes that e-learning programs have been improved so that teachers can engage with students more effectively. She hopes school can resume at least in a hybrid model within a few weeks into the fall term.
“We understand the social aspect of school, but we can’t have kids in school if there is a huge contagion taking place. I would feel more comfortable if the positivity rate was less than five percent. We never want to be responsible for causing a major surge in cases,” she said. “We will review things on a weekly basis. Everyone needs to wear their mask, practice social distancing and wash their hands so school can reopen again.”
Rupert said the feel of community learning has been lost.
To gain a little of it back and help with mental health issues, students will be allowed to participate in small e-learning groups.
The district also has mental health programs planned to help teachers if they need it.
Broward Teachers Union President Anna Fusco has criticized Broward school leaders, saying they have not done enough to prepare an effective online learning environment.
A recent survey conducted by Broward Schools received about 132,000 responses with 32 percent wanting 100 percent e-learning, 35 percent asking for the hybrid model and 31 percent wanting 100 percent face-to-face learning.
Governor Ron DeSantis continues to advocate for students to return to classrooms.
Said DeSantis in a recent press conference, “I believe that there should be a choice for parents throughout Florida. Parents who prefer distance learning should be able to opt for it, and parents who desire in-person instruction should have access to it. We cannot be the generation that deprives our children of the opportunity to live up to their God-given potential.”