COVID-19, NEWS — March 19, 2020 at 9:20 pm

COVID-19 creates major changes within Broward County Public Schools

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Broward School Board Superintendent Robert Runcie holds a press conference to discuss the school district’s plans regarding travel regulations and other guidelines in response to the coronavirus or COVID-19, Thursday, March 12, 2020. Photo courtesy of Michael Laughlin/South Florida Sun Sentinel

On Friday, March 13, Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie held a press conference announcing that all BCPS schools were to be temporarily shut down effective on Monday, March 16. Prior to this decision, Runcie had declared that all after-school events, including sports such as water polo and volleyball, were to be suspended for the remainder of the year. All in-state and out of state school-sponsored trips were also canceled.

These actions were taken as a precaution to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease, a respiratory illness. 

“It really sucks,” senior Aljenadro Rodriquez said. “I mean, this is my senior year and now everything is ending early because of this virus.”

President Donald Trump declared a national emergency before Runcie’s announcement on March 13. In addition, Florida governor Ron DeSantis banned visits to nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Broward County, as well as activated the National Guard. 

Across the country, universities and colleges closed their campuses, sending students home to continue their education through online classes. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all BCPS schools will remain closed through April 15 to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the students and faculty. Following in the footsteps of colleges and universities, all BCPS students and teachers will begin an online curriculum on March 30, utilizing online tools such as Zoom video meetings and Canvas, an online resource where teachers can assign work as well as tests to students.

“Everything that’s happening right now is just so crazy,” freshman Lily Tomek said. “I feel really bad for the seniors, but it’s messing everyone up. We’re all losing so much time in school.”

Due to the switch to an online learning system, BCPS will be supplying low-income students with computer devices on Friday, March 20 between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. These devices will be available for pickup at all BCPS schools. Comcast has also expanded its Internet Essentials program in order to provide families with internet access for 60 days.

On March 18, the Florida Department of Education released all significant changes to the state’s requirements, calendar and other educational expectations. Among these alterations, it was announced that all state examinations, such as Florida Standards Assessments and End-of-Course exams, are canceled. In addition, it was also announced that schools will not receive overall grades for the 2019-2020 school year.

“I kind of like the idea of online classes,” junior Madline Dwyer said. “But I’m just really disappointed to be missing out on all of the hands-on stuff we do in school, especially since I’m a part of technical theatre.”

Currently, all decisions regarding campus closures and reopenings are subject to change regarding the spread and severity of the COVID-19 threat. The World Health Organization, along with the Center for Disease Control, has recommended that people engage in self quarantining, practice social distancing and avoid gatherings of more than ten people in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Ava Steil

Ava Steil is a Junior at Marjory Stonenman Douglas. She enjoys reading, writing, and studying with her friends at local coffee shops.

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