On Tuesday, March 31, Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert W. Runcie held an emergency school board meeting, announcing that all Broward County public schools will be closed until May 1, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 has been spreading throughout Broward County through person-to-person contact, so the extension of school being closed was enforced to keep everyone safe and healthy and possibly decrease the number of coronavirus cases in the county.
According to Local 10 News, as of April 6, Florida now has more than 13,000 cases of the coronavirus and 236 people in the state have died. There are 2,067 cases of the coronavirus across Broward County, with a total of 47 deaths.
During the meeting, the Florida Department of Education announced that all public and private schools extend their shutdown throughout May 1.
“The Florida Department of Education commissioner recommended yesterday that all Florida schools will remain closed, and should remain closed until May 1,” Runcie said in his announcement at the emergency school board meeting.
Runcie also announced in the school board meeting that everyone should prepare to continue the current education model and distance learning throughout the remainder of the school year.
In an update on Friday, April 3, Runcie posted a video broadcast from home where he recapped Broward County’s first week of online learning. He also predicted that this new change will become a permanent routine for the remainder of the school year.
“Consequently it is reasonable for all of us to plan for continuing distance learning through the end of the school year,” Runcie said during his broadcast.
Runcie also reported that the first week of online learning was successfully carried out with approximately 15,000 teachers and 222,000 students who participated in remote online learning.
Broward County Public Schools, along with other districts, have switched to online distance learning using platforms such as Zoom and Canvas. Zoom is a website that provides video and audio conferencing across mobile devices such as laptops and phones. Canvas allows teachers to assign and collect work as well as communicate with their students.
These online platforms are planned to help students achieve learning just like they would in a classroom.
Although the decision of keeping schools closed until May 1 is to keep students, teachers and administrators safe, students are having different reactions to this announcement. Many seniors at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were looking forward to spending their last year of high school in school with friends, sports seasons and final trips.
“I think it’s good [that] kids are staying out of school and keeping distance from one another. Yet, it’s tough to think that this school year might be over because I’m a senior and I’ve worked all summer for this year. It’s hard to go out on a bad note before the middle of our baseball season, especially with prom and graduation in the upcoming months,” senior Coby Mayo said.
Sophomore Camila Fraser thinks the idea of school being closed till May 1 is beneficial to help keep our community safe from the coronavirus, however, there are many things she will miss.
“I don’t like the fact that school is closed till May 1. I miss the day-to-day interaction with my friends and the people I don’t see outside of school. I enjoyed having the schedule to keep me busy since being at home is boring. But I’m still doing everything I can do to make the most out of it,” Fraser said.
Advanced Placement World History and U.S. History teacher Devin Schaller feel that the decision to keep schools closed can be a great learning opportunity for students as well as teachers.
“I think schools remaining closed until May 1 is being done with safety of students, faculty and their families in mind and can help shorten the duration of the pandemic. While it is challenging to continue school through distance learning, I think it’s going to expand the educational experience for both teachers and students and make us more prepared to deal with problems such as this in the future,” Schaller said.
English teacher Debra Jacobson has been doing online distance learning with all of her classes. Jacobson holds her online meetings via zoom, she also posts assignments daily on canvas.
“This has been an interesting week doing online distance learning and it has had ups and downs all the way through. I have to give a lot of credit to my students who took it very seriously and worked hard this week. I would prefer to be back at MSD with all my students in my classroom, but I want everyone to stay safe and well,” Jacobson said.
Throughout the month of April, all BCPS schools will keep their campuses closed to the public in order to maintain a safe and healthy community. The May 1 date is subject to change in accordance with the COVID-19 threat.