School board pushes back plan for reopening

By Matthew Shanbom, Editor-in-Chief and Eduardo Andrade, Editor-in-Chief

The school board held a meeting to discuss plans on reopening in person learning on Tuesday Sept. 22. 

The main conflict during the workshop was whether to delay the planned reopening from Oct. 5 and how far to delay it. The main message provided by the district is that schools are ready to reopen Oct. 5 while school board members and teachers largely disagreed. The school board was split into two camps, one led by Dr. Rosalind Osgood and one led by the chair Donna Korn. Korn’s proposal involves bringing back PreK, K-2, 6th, 9th and ESE on Oct. 14 and the rest of the students who opt to come back on Oct. 20. Osgood’s proposal was similar except the dates were pushed back one week to give the district more time to prepare. In the end, Korn’s proposal was recommended to the district for consideration. It is still up in the air whether the state will approve staggering 6th and 9th grades as a similar proposal by Palm Beach Schools was denied.

The workshop also allowed time for board members to ask questions about the presentation and reopening. While much of the information during this part of the meeting involved higher level logistics, it also included more detailed descriptions of specifics on reopening.

One such example of this was information on how code red drills would be conducted.

“For last month, we replaced a  requirement for doing code red with the situation awareness video to be shown to all other students and we believe we are providing education that is relevant to those situations,” Chief Safety Officer Brian Katz said.

The questioning session also debunked some rumors that had been spreading about the transition back to school. One such rumor is that kids would be sitting in one room all day. 

“The information is that we are going to be changing classes so that kids can have the opportunities that they would normally have,” Supt. Robert Runcie said.

Despite this, students will continue to participate in e-Learning. If they return to school, they will be required to bring either school-issued or personal computers to class every day.

A number of items in the school boards presentation were false or misleading.

The board presented a screen capture of Florida’s COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard by the Florida Department of Health, Division of Disease Control and Health Protection, which said in large, red font “FL Residents Positive 217,” reference to the number of positive tests the day before. This number was true for Broward County only, not Florida as a whole, which the photo did not make clear.

Another error in the presentation was the statement that case numbers are declining in Broward. According to the Florida Department of Health, the number of new cases per day in the week leading up to Sept. 18th, when the data presented was collected, the average number of new cases per day was 178.57. The week before that, the average number of new cases per day was 161.71. 

The presentation also listed the fact that “367 employees & contractors reporting positive test results since 6/1,” as a condition supporting reopening.

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