By: Jen Russon
Following the January 8 expiration of health accommodations, which allowed them to teach remotely since the Fall, teachers are returning to the classroom on Monday; however, 600 will be allowed to remain at home.
Superintendent Robert Runcie told reporters they are working to extend health accommodations for 600 instructional staff, an ongoing process for the last few weeks.
“We can’t grant remote work to everyone who wants it. That’s just not going to happen. It’s easier to grant remote work at the elementary school level,” he said.
Runcie added that Broward County Public Schools have always made decisions based on science and data. Given the low secondary transmission rate of COVID-19 in schools, they feel it’s safe to welcome teachers back.
Of the 1,300 cases of Coronavirus in the county, Runcie said contract tracing attributed just ten percent of those to cases picked up in schools. He added 69 percent of those 130 cases were related to participation in athletic programs.
Runcie cited different percentages throughout his 11-minute press conference, telling reporters 27 percent of Broward County’s students are currently back in classrooms, but his best-case scenario for increasing that figure, between now and the end of the school year, rests at about 40 percent.
The Superintendent was adamant about ending what he called ‘warehousing students’ in cafeterias and gymnasiums as the pandemic continues. He also said he is pushing at the federal level to expedite vaccinations for teachers.
Crediting recent and ongoing changes to the county’s instructional model, Runcie said the best place for a child struggling academically is back in school.
The Superintendent had no comment on pending lawsuits brought by teachers who say they won’t return on Monday.
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- Jen Russon is a freelance writer and English Language Arts teacher. She has published two novels to Amazon Kindle and lives in Coral Springs with her family.
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