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Broward’s Attempt To Get Teachers Back In The Classroom, Recruiting College Athletes During COVID-19 And Jason Derulo

Miami Herald
Miami High’s Colleen Bucknor leaps for a basket last year during the state championship game.

Should teachers be required to come back to the classroom? Is there a lost generation of high school athletes who will lose out on opportunities because of the pandemic? Plus, pop star Jason Derulo on growing up in South Florida and social activism on TikTok.

On this Thursday, Jan. 28 episode of Sundial,

Broward’s Attempt To Get Teachers Back In The Classroom

There’s an ongoing fight between the Broward Teachers Union and the Broward County School District over a requirement to have all teachers back in the classroom.

With Broward County having some of the highest coronavirus case numbers in the state, the school district issued around 1,700 remote work accommodations. This meant that students attending in-person classes for those teachers still had to be supervised and ended up in cafeterias or auditoriums, leading to complaints by parents, according to the Sun Sentinel.

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“The academic performance for both groups was not very good — it dropped dramatically last semester. So the school district said, ‘For this semester, we're going to have to do something different. We really need our teachers back.’ So they decided to require all teachers to come back. And then they gave principals the authority if they could deal with it and not have to have overflow rooms,” said Scott Travis, the Sun Sentinel’s education reporter.

Teachers filed a lawsuit against the district, and the judge ruled in arbitration that teachers will be required to come back to the classroom unless they can provide paperwork proving it’s an unsafe working environment.

“What the union argues is that the district was totally not transparent. The union believes the district may have been arbitrary and capricious about how they decided to grant these remote accommodations. And, if they're not able to prove that they did this based on some logical means, then the union will be able to tell the arbitrator in a few weeks that the school district is not abiding by what they agreed to,” Travis said.

Broward’s Attempt To Get Teachers Back In The Classroom

Recruiting College Athletes During A Pandemic

High school athletes work years, sometimes most of their lives, to one day be on a college team. With the hopes that their efforts could maybe lead them to the pros.

COVID-19 has made that possibility more difficult than it already was — even before the pandemic only a small percentage of players made it to the collegiate level.

Some young athletes join competitive travel teams, like the Miami Suns, that are committed to helping them improve their skills and get noticed by college coaches. The Suns compete in the Nike Girls Elite Youth Basketball League.

“It goes without saying that the colleges definitely communicate with us. The level of competition is obviously a little bit higher when you play in a program like ours as compared to maybe a normal high school… we just try to transfer as much information as possible and give it to the coaches, everything that they could possibly need to make the recruiting process seamless and just very informative for them,” said Miguel Diaz, the co-founder and program director of the Miami Suns.

They’ve had team members go on to play college basketball and five of their players have gone into the WNBA.

But with the pandemic, players aren’t getting enough time on the court. And on top of that, coaches have had to remake the recruitment process — especially after the NCAA gave athletes another year of eligibility. That could mean fewer roster openings for incoming freshmen.

The mental health of student athletes has also been a worry.

“To not compete is very difficult for them. The bigger concern I've been having, though, is the current team has been in and out of quarantine on numerous occasions. It's just so, so difficult for them to sit in a room for 14 days without really being able to see other people,” said LeAnn Freeland-Curry, the head coach of Nova Southeastern University’s women’s basketball team.

Recruiting College Athletes During A Pandemic
The Washington Mystics play in Game 5 of basketball's WNBA Finals in October. The league, which postponed the start of its season due to the coronavirus, announced plans to reopen in July.

Jason Derulo

Before pop star Jason Derulo was touring the globe and reaching hundreds of millions of fans on iTunes and Spotify, he was a student at the Dillard School of the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale — growing up in South Florida.

“I think the fact that I grew up with so many different kinds of cultures definitely played a part in the global mindset that I had. You know, I wasn't just worried about Americans. It was a big world out there. So when I was making music, I wanted to make music that would speak to that,” said Derulo on growing up in Miramar, a cultural melting pot including folks from Latin America and the Caribbean.

As part of season three of “Live from the 305,” our series highlighting the artists shaping South Florida’s music, Derulo spoke with WLRN’s Caitie Switalski Muñoz on Sundial.

Jason Derulo
Youths perform in front of a cellphone camera while making a TikTok video on the roof of their residence in Hyderabad, India, in February. India's government has banned 59 Chinese-owned apps including TikTok.

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Suria is Sundial's fall 2020 high school intern and a production assistant.
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.