By Jill Fox
Prior to the school board meeting on Tuesday, Broward County Superintendent Robert Runcie addressed the district’s school reopening plan and the path to a return to physical classrooms.
Runcie focused on the resilience of this generation, having endured “a pandemic, an economy in free fall and another moment of moral reckoning with our country’s quest for justice and equality.”
After several workshops, Runcie explained the three main conditions necessary for the safe reopening of schools.
The first is to control the spread of the pandemic. The second is to develop protocols that provide for the health and safety of students, teachers, and staff before their return to campuses. And third is to provide funding to cover the required protocols and measures they will need to take at schools.
The proposed draft reopening plan includes health and safety protocols, strategies for improving the e-learning experience, and accelerating learning.
However, Runcie then referred to “the other half” of what is needed to reopen schools, which would not be discussed at the school board meeting — a community strategy to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
“We will not compromise the health and safety of our students, teachers, and staff, that’s our highest priority,” he said.
The plan is to revisit reopening on October 1. Currently, the rate of positive tests for COVID-19 in Broward County stands at ten percent. The recommendation from public health experts is for children to remain at home until the county observes a decreased rate of three to five percent over a rolling two-week average.
Runcie described another challenge for schools is the availability of rapid tests, and how prioritizing results will be “critical for students and staff members,” significantly reducing absences and disruptions.
He suggests $200 billion in funding from the federal government in response to the impact of COVID-19 on Broward’s 50 million students. This would help cover the purchase of PPE for enhanced cleaning and sanitation protocols, expand mental health services, and provide reliable high-speed internet, among other things.
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