Battle with the Board

Students, faculty and parents receive information from the Broward County Public School Board Metting about school reopenings in October

Photo+Credits%3A+Coralspringstalk.com

Photo Credits: Coralspringstalk.com

With the entire country testing the waters with the inevitable transition from the newly renovated education format of traditional learning, school districts begin to discuss the return back to school with a hybrid model, known as the e learning model.  Consisting of Canvas and Microsoft Teams Meetings and  implemented in August, the model will resume beyond the reopening date of October 12.  However, many schools frantically began ways of reopening the schools in a safe manner, for students and teachers, adhering to the dates established and regulations put in place.

 

On Sept. 22, in order for those that will be directly impacted by a decision to receive answers, the School Board of Broward County Public Schools held a meeting discussing the anticipated plan for reopening and all that should entail. 

 

The meeting began with an opening statement from Superintendent Robert Runcie, establishing that the re-emerging of persons into the schools with Phase 2, will be an exact follow of the Phase 1 mandate;  however, students and teachers are in a different location, some physically on school campus, and are required to wear face masks, while others remain home. 

 

Information streamed to the masses about released surveys to Broward County Public Schools employees and families about the expected return or not once the school doors opened  back up. One third of all votes by employees selected to remain in the Online Learning format, and 1,400 intended to take a leave of absence if they are coerced to return back to classrooms or other crucial jobs in the school system according to data posted by the school board after the initial survey. Of the 3,600 teachers that participated in the survey, 1,200 opted to take some leave, totalling a whopping 32 percent of teachers in the district. Faculty and teachers that presented a concern of return due to personal health concerns provided documentation to the district, to  be evaluated upon severity and will be accommodated accordingly. 

 

Several days following the school board meeting, parents had the opportunity to express their concerns and desires when it comes to returning or not returning students back to school. 

 

Many teachers and students are concerned with whether or not it is the proper time to return back to school, as a rise in Covid-19 keeps happening. As the school year came to an abrupt halt in the spring, adjustments were made for the senior class of 2020; however, now the class of 2021 is now in the direct line of fire when it comes to the pandemic. As the upper and underclassmen have had to find ways to assimilate to the new way of learning, and would like to return back to either finish their time in high school or continue making memories, some believe now is not the best time to operate school campuses.

 

“I understand why schools are reopening;  however, I don’t think it is a great idea. Florida is still the Covid epicenter. Returning will make social distancing hard for people who have not been able to see their friends during quarantine. Even though there are regulations and restrictions for reopening, I personally don’t think it is a good time to reopen; therefore, I am staying online for the remainder of the first semester.”

— senior Reagan Tenenbaum

 

As of Oct. 12, children and teens began to return back to campuses, with a maximum of an average of 13 students per classroom. The first to return were Kindergarten, first grade, and 2nd, as the priority to provide before and after care resources rise. However, due to high demand, the fee has increased from two hundred and sixty five dollars to three hundred and fifty weekly, due to the need of more space and staff. Then, middle schoolers and highschoolers began returning shortly after. When it comes to the return, Superintendent Robert Runcie pointed out that the environment will not be like how it was prior to the March shutdown, and many restrictions will be put in place. Children and teachers must remain in their desks, masks on. Collaborative work should  not happen under any physical conditions, and teachers must not use physical worksheets. Hallways are now operating under “One way” limitations and bathrooms may not be used during class transition; however, during class hours, escorts are  provided. Students and teachers are encouraged to bring a bottle of water and extra sanitary items like masks and sanitizer, as the water fountains have been switched off for safety and supplies will be limited.

 

Each school has been provided plexiglass for the front office for extra protection during social distancing. Each school will also be provided with E-misters, which are automatic disinfecting mists, containing Wexcide128, and have been approved by the district and the FDA for sanitation purposes in the classroom. Each E-mister is dilated for each use, making it not hazardous or irritating.  Floor, chair, table, and wall decals will be placed school wide for reminders in social distancing guidelines, directional purposes, and safe zones for grade levels.

 

In the classroom, teachers are permitted to use whiteboards and SMARTBOARDS in order to enhance learning for students in person and online.

 

Students and parents are strongly urged to everyday check for temperature and symptoms for Covid-19, prior to returning to the campus, referring to the district provided self-checklist.. Parents are also encouraged to transport students personally to and from school, as social distancing regulations require school buses to operate at 50% capacity. 

 

In the event that a student or staff member exhibits symptoms of the virus, including but not limited to cough, temperature, shortness of breath, muscle aches, and loss of sense, they will be sent to a designated isolation room to go through a mandatory screening. If the symptoms continue, students must be sent home, and the sibling as well if he or she has one in the school, and must self isolate for at least fourteen days and may not return until a negative test result gets sent into the nurse’s office. The district encourages parents and students to watch the safety videos published on the BCPS website and review all other informational reports.

 

If a teacher falls ill, regardless if it is a common cold or Covid, they must report it and decide whether they feel comfortable in continuing to teach online from their home. In the event that they are not able to resume the lesson plan, the school will make accommodations for those students.

 

With regard to breakfast and lunch on campus, adhering to social distancing guidelines, depending on the capacity of students on campus, the eating situation can fluctuate to either meal consumption in the cafeteria, courtyard, or in the classroom with a Grab-and-Go option.

 

“While I definitely miss the socialization of seeing my friends and catching up at lunch, I  know that the safety measures in place are for the best. Right now it is a hard time for everyone, and personally, staying home is what works best for me as it’s the safest option.”

— sophomore Brooke Jolliff

 

  

With regard to sports, “On Mon., Sept. 21, high schools begin Return to Play: Phase 1 for fall sports with voluntary conditioning sessions,” via Broward Schools Twitter. Students may choose to participate in these sports, considering the social distancing guidelines. Clubs will remain in a virtual atmosphere until further notice.

 

Towards the end of the meeting, teachers, students, parents, and employees were permitted two minutes to express their emotions on the reopening of schools. “{We are told to either} work or leave. {We are told to choose our} livelihood or {our} life. This shows how much you value those in the workforce and the children {in the district,” a concerned teacher said. Some mothers that took the podium to express their concerns to the board found that they were not informed well in advance as to how the transition would take place and that it is “too rushed.”  

 

“I asked for a choice and was not given one,” the mother of a student in the Broward County School District said. “Take a step back and put your tail in between your legs and really evaluate all that is going on.”

 

As of Friday Oct. 9, bell schedules returned back to how it was prior to the shutdown. Principal Dr. Mark Kaplan posted on his social media a video made by Student Government and T.V. Production regarding more information on a more personal return to the jungle.

 

Oct. 12 marked the start to half days implemented on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, as teachers prepared the classrooms for students to return.

 

For more information, please refer to the Browardschools.com and coralgladeshigh.com, regarding school reopenings.