The Broward County School Board presented preliminary plans for reopening public schools at a press conference on June 16. The board's goal is to guarantee students the option of completing half of their learning time on campus.
Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) Superintendent Robert Runcie said it was imperative to reopen and maximize physical time spent at school.
“We got to find a way to do this while balancing the heavy trade-offs of health and safety, equity in access to high-quality education for all students,” Runcie said. “We have to recognize that we have to be flexible to be able to adapt to changing conditions in the pandemic as we go into the new school year.”
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The board took into consideration the feedback from more than 80,000 parents, guardians, teachers, staff, and students. The latest preference survey shows that nearly 70 percent of respondents want school to resume either at facilities or as a hybrid model. There is also a demand to continue learning completely online, with about a quarter of respondents preferring this method.
A hybrid model is being considered, with each school having some flexibility on how to implement it. Although the details have not been determined, the plan would consist of groups of students being on campus on selected days. Runcie said students in specific programs would receive prioritization, such as special education students and early learners. E-learning would continue to be a full-time option for families that do not feel comfortable attending in-person instruction.
Teachers will continue to receive the training and support needed for online learning. School Board Chair Donna Korn said the training will include modifying lesson plans in order to synchronize education for students learning at home and in classrooms. Parents will also receive resources on how to be more effective education partners.
School activities, such as athletics and band, are expected to resume by mid-July. Adult education programs and certifications at technical colleges will reopen by the end of this month.
“We believe that’s absolutely important given the state of the economy and the need for people to think about retooling their skills and getting ready for whatever opportunities may come up in this job market,” Runcie said.
Schools will receive guidance and parameters on how to engage with their community and come up with customized solutions. More details and safety measures will be provided in the next few weeks.
“At some point in the future, I think our new normal is going to be not the old normal,” Runcie said. “It’s going to be a better experience for our students.”