By Jill Fox
During an emergency meeting on Thursday, the Broward County School Board voted unanimously to begin in-person learning three days ahead of schedule.
An order from the state had threatened to withhold funding for Broward County if they did not reopen campuses by October 5.
However, after the meeting began, state officials sent a message compromising on an opening date three days later.
“Our jobs are not intended to be easy,” said School Board Chair, Donna Korn, “The amount of money we are risking over three school days – I don’t see how we could recover as a district.”
According to Superintendent Robert Runcie, those additional days would give the district a lot more comfort, putting them in a much better situation.
Families waited more than five hours to hear the decision on when their children would be going back to school.
School board member Patricia Good said she felt pressure and disappointment.
When considering the possibility of jeopardizing roughly 350 million dollars, Good said, “This has the potential to ruin us–I can’t imagine any district being able to come back from something like that.”
Throughout Thursday afternoon, parents took to Facebook to share their feelings on the subject.
“We are being “bullied” and threatened with a loss of funding,” said Erika Velez, “They have no regard for the health and safety of the students, teachers, and staff.”
Wendy Parker said she believes the board is trying very hard to do what is right, but they are faced with such a difficult decision, and it’s a no-win situation regardless.
Others, like Melissa Sackman, spoke about the bigger picture, “There should have already been a more formalized plan in place to tweak and activate when the inevitable day of reopening came along.”
In an emotional speech, School Board Member Nora Rupert mentioned the difficulties the county has endured.
“We as a district have gone through hell and back, and the mental health of our community had been stretched to the limits,” she said, “Then the pandemic hit.”
At the meeting’s conclusion, a unanimous vote decided on a phased reopening date of October 8. Families will still have the option to continue e-learning until December, when the district will reassess the situation for the spring semester.
“We as a school board, we don’t play, not when it comes to our family and kids,” said Rupert, “This is Broward – we do things differently here – we’re a district with heart.”
Return to in-person learning schedule
October 8 – teacher planning day
October 9 – ESE, pre-k, kindergarten, first and second-grade students return
October 12 – early release day
October 13 – third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and ninth-grade students return
October 14 – early release day
October 15 – all remaining grades return
October 16 – early release day
October 19 – teacher planning day
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- Jill Fox is an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer. She has worked in public relations and television for over 20 years. Fox lives in Parkland with her husband and their two children.