FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) - When the school year begins this fall in Broward, students will not be heading back to the classroom.
In remarks to a School Board workshop on Wednesday, Superintendent Robert Runcie said it will be 100 percent online instruction.
"During the last three months, we've listened and learned a lot from our teachers, students, and parents. We're using those experiences and lessons learned to significantly improve the quality of eLearning. Our teachers are receiving additional training over the summer and this training will continue throughout the school year so that they will be effective in engaging our students," said Runcie. "When schools open on August 19, it will be 100 percent eLearning model. Our teachers will deliver the best eLearning experience possible by providing direct live instruction in the classroom or virtually through our online eLearning platform and tools. I believe in our teachers and I have no doubt that they will deliver."
Last week, the Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics wrote a letter to Governor DeSantis which stated that science should drive decision making on safely reopening schools and not politics.
"Currently, viral infection rates in Florida are extremely high, with a rolling average of 14.2 percent of test positive for new infections over the past two weeks. Public health experts and infectious disease physicians almost universally recommend that children not go to school until the positive test rate is in the range of three to five percent over a rolling two-week average," said Runcie. "If children go to school with such high infection rates, schools will be forced to close very quickly after opening, and many children and families will likely become ill with COVID-19."
WATCH: Superintendent Robert Runcie's Remarks To The School Board
The superintendent said no one wants the students to return to the classroom more than they do.
"I assure you that we will be nimble in our ability to shift to one of the other learning models when COVID-19 cases and infection rates have lowered to what our health officials consider to be a safe level," he said.
To lower the level so students can return to school campuses, everyone must do their part.
"It will require each and every one of us to help contain the community spread of COVID-19 by wearing mass by physically distancing, and by washing hands. The only way the district will be able to open our school buildings is when the community has lowered the number of COVID-19 cases," he said.
Runcie added that we are all in this together and everyone must set an example for the children and each other.
"We owe it to our kids to get this pandemic under control. So that we can fully open our school buildings and provide our children with the opportunities to develop their skills, to believe in themselves, to hope and dream, and to be prepared for a successful future," he said.
Runcie said he's asked leaders to put in place a national and state plan that includes effective testing and contact tracing. He also wants to see the HEROES Act pass in Congress that would provide $250 billion to public schools across the country.
Miami-Dade Public Schools is also drafting at home learning scenarios as the virus rate continues to rise.
Some South Florida charter schools are looking at alternatives.
Eddie Ruiz is the Florida director for Charter Schools USA, which operates more than a dozen charter schools in Miami-Dade and Broward, including the well-known Renaissance charter schools. He said they are offering choices that include five days a week at school, full online education, and a blended approach.
Ruiz said they've been preparing their classrooms so students and teachers can feel safe
The Archdiocese of Miami said no final decision as been made as to whether there will be classes in schools or whether it will be online learning. They said it all depends on what happens with the infection rate during the next three weeks.
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