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Broward District To Suspend Athletics And Extracurriculars, But Schools Will Remain Open

NBC 6 South Florida
From left, Broward County School Board chair Donna Korn, Superintendent Robert Runcie and School Board member Rosalind Osgood provide updates on the district response to coronavirus.

Broward County Public Schools is suspending all after-school activities starting Monday, including athletic practices and games, as part of the district’s response to the spread of coronavirus.

Superintendent Robert Runcie said his goal is to keep schools open as long as possible.

“Look, closing a school or an entire district has enormous ramifications,” Runcie said during a Thursday afternoon news conference at the district’s headquarters in Fort Lauderdale.

“It has impacts on the economy,” Runcie said. “It has impacts on the health care system. ... If we close schools, ... health care workers may need to stay home to take care of their kids, further impacting this county’s [ability] to address this issue.”

Like Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the Broward district plans to use online learning and offer other at-home lessons and projects, should schools need to close eventually. The district is also making plans to distribute food in the event of closures, since many families depend on meals served in schools.

Other policy changes Runcie announced include:

  • Travel: All international travel had already been canceled, and out-of-state travel had been suspended until further notice. Starting Monday, all travel within Florida for academic, athletic or extracurricular events will also be suspended. All students or employees traveling voluntarily to the highest-risk areas, as determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, must self-report and self-isolate for 14 days upon return.
  • Isolation and quarantine: Students with flu-like symptoms will be isolated in a designated area until a parent or guardian arrives to take them home. Such students will not be permitted to return to school until they have been medically cleared or demonstrate that they have not presented symptoms for three consecutive days. Their absences will be excused, and they will be provided opportunities to continue their education at home. Employees with flu-like symptoms will be sent home and asked to practice social distancing. Similarly, they will not be allowed to return until they’ve been medically cleared or asymptomatic for three days. If there are confirmed cases of coronavirus among students and stuff, those people will be required to self-isolate and not return to school or work until they receive medical clearance.
  • Cleaning and hygiene: Schools will receive cleaning in high-frequency contact areas like doorknobs, drinking fountains and sinks. Schools will be stocked with extra soap, towels and hand sanitizer.
  • Elections: Some Broward schools are polling places for Tuesday’s presidential primary elections. Students have the day off. Runcie said the areas where voting will take place will be sanitized before students come back to school.
Jessica Bakeman is Director of Enterprise Journalism at WLRN News, and she is the former senior news editor and education reporter. Her 2021 project "Class of COVID-19" won a national Edward R. Murrow Award.
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