By: Saraana Jamraj
Broward County Superintendent Robert Runcie provided another virtual update on the future of the school year — including the cancellation of exams, new Florida Department of Education guidelines, and a call for patience and working together amid the COVID-19 crisis.
The Broward County School Board has focused on getting three things done he said: providing meals, delivering childcare services for medical staff and first responders, and planning for learning continuity.
He announced on March 18 that schools would be resuming at the end of the month, as virtual classes beginning on March 30.
To ensure that as facilities close, learning continues, they’ve used three strategies— distributing digital devices, making sure all students have internet and connectivity, and utilizing Canvas, their virtual learning management system.
Runcie particularly thanked the voters, who voted for the Smart Bond initiative, which allowed and prepared the district to deliver up to 90,000 computing devices to the community.
“That investment has really paid off for us today, where we’re able to be able to ensure that every student will have a device,” he said.
Internet access will be provided by Comcast Internet Essentials, which is free for the first 60 days and $9.95 per month after that.
Despite all the strategies and plans in place, Runcie shared this new transition to virtual learning would not be without obstacles.
“There will be some challenges along the way, but we will overcome them. And with your support and patience, we will get through it,” said Runcie.
He said that no matter how long the district does online learning, it is no substitute for the interactions between teachers and students, but that he’s confident that the teaching force of over 15,000 teaching professionals will do their best to ensure the students they love are successful.
In addition to updates unique to Broward, he also shared the new guidelines provided by the Florida Department of Education, which will also affect the schools in Parkland.
“All state testing, FSA, end-of-course exams, and other mandated examinations are canceled and will not be factored in course grades or graduation decisions,” said Runcie.
Instead, graduation and promotion decisions will be based on local criteria.
School district grades will also not be calculated for the 2019-2020 school year, and the district will be given the flexibility to receive and use the full allocation of funding for this school year, getting all the resources they need.
“We cannot do this alone— It takes a village to raise a child. And we need parents and guardians, neighbors and friends, and our cities and agencies to partner with us to give our children the very best we can,” said Runcie.