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Broward Schools Get Closer To Reopening, Community Colleges Cope With COVID-19, Jazz & Social Justice

Emily Michot
Miami Herald
Wednesday, August 19th was the first day of school for Broward Schools, with all classes being taught remotely. Broward Schools Supt. Robert Runcie gives a thumbs up to Julia Williams’ 4th grade virtual learning students using her laptop, at Nova Blanche Forman Elementary School.

Broward Schools face pressure to reopen. Local community colleges and the coronavirus. Plus, a conversation about jazz and social justice.

On this Wednesday, Sept. 30, episode of Sundial:

Broward Schools Get Closer To Reopening

Students in Broward County are still learning from home, but that could change as soon as next week.

It all depends on whether the school board decides to reopen on Oct. 5, per the orders of State Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran. He has threatened to pull education dollars if the district doesn’t have a good enough reason to keep campuses closed next week.

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“I have to balance out what is in the best interest of our kids, our teachers in this county, versus continuing to try to take a hard line for the nine days — which we would certainly need to have and like to have — but I’m not going to risk significant financial hardship for this district, which ultimately is going to hurt our kids and our classrooms,” said Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie.

The Broward School Board is considering phasing in students starting on Oct. 16. There’s a special meeting scheduled for Thursday to discuss possibilities for reopening.

We spoke with Runcie about the school district's reopening plans.

Community Colleges Cope With COVID-19

Miami Dade College started in-person classes this week. And even as the third largest community college system in the country, it’s still experiencing the largest enrollment drop in its 60-year history.

The school is not alone. The pandemic has hit community colleges across the state and the country hard, impacting enrollment and finances.

Usually, during an economic downturn, schools see an uptick in enrollment as job opportunities disappear. Could the pandemic change that trend?

“[Enrollment] may look down right now but there are so many other times for students to enroll,” said Kathy Hebda, the chancellor of the Florida College System. “We have a responsibility in each out college system districts to reach out to those individuals who can’t, won’t, don’t, realize that they can attend post-secondary and gain available skill, a degree, a myriad of things that can help them and their family really become economically upwardly mobile.”

We spoke with Hebda about how the state’s 28 community colleges are responding to COVID-19 and implementing workforce training programs.

Jazz & Social Justice

From the songs of the Underground Railroad that helped enslaved people reach freedom. To the civil rights music of the '60s and even today, melodic sounds continue to play a role in the movement for social justice.

Jazz and gospel singer Brenda Alford has been educating young people about the role of Black musicians in American history.

She is part of a new virtual salon series from the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts called The Heritage Project, where local community leaders and cultural experts discuss the history of social justice and the influence of Black art.

“The strength of my activism has been using music and teaching all colors of children, all races of children, about how Black music has evolved, what it evolved from and how it can open doors for understanding,” said Alford.

We spoke with Alford about her activism and music career.

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Leslie Ovalle produces WLRN's daily magazine program, Sundial. She previously produced Morning Edition newscasts at WLRN and anchored the midday news. As a multimedia producer, she also works on visual and digital storytelling.