Hundreds Of Broward Teachers Forced To Return To Their Classrooms Ted Scouten reports 1100 teachers who had been working remotely were told to return to their classrooms on Monday.
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Politicians want schools open so children can get in-person learning. Business leaders, parents, teachers and school administrators feel the same way.
The theory of the case is simple: children do better when they socialize and study with other students. Parents benefit from classroom learning because they can go to work knowing their children are getting the attention they need. Teachers can respond to their students in ways that may not be possible with remote learning by computer.
But Covid-19, the novel Coronavirus that has killed nearly 400,000 Americans in less than a year, is testing the way we run our education system.
Many schools have reopened after at-home learning by computer was implemented last spring, when the deadly virus first spread across the country.
However, a lot of students continue to learn at home with their computer, either because they are not required to return to the classroom, or their parents are allowed to opt-out of classroom learning for fear that their children may contract Covid-19.
Broward County, the second-most populous county in Florida, runs the sixth-largest school district in the country. Almost 261,000 students, from 170 different countries, and speaking 147 different languages, attend classes, according to the Broward Schools website.
The students are taught by about 18,000 teachers, says Jennifer Gottlieb, the political outreach director for the Broward Teachers Union. Roughly 1,700 of those teachers were granted a medical accommodation last fall that runs through June, she says. The accommodation allows them to continue teaching via computer from home so they can protect their health which could be damaged or destroyed if they get Covid-19.
But a review by Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie led to a change in plans. He announced last week that more students than usual were doing poorly academically or were truant since the inception of at-home learning by computer.
"Remote learning is working for some students, but for far too many, it is not working at all," Runcie said at a Friday press conference, according to WLRN. "And we have got to do better," he said. "We can no longer continue to warehouse our students in cafeterias, gymnasiums and media centers while teachers are at home. We are encouraging our students, especially those who are struggling, to return to school for face-to-face instruction."
So Runcie ordered all teachers to return to the classroom on Jan. 11. The Teachers Union filed a lawsuit last Thursday, claiming the decision violated an agreement they had reached with the school system in the fall. After some back and forth, about 600 of the teachers with medical accommodations were permitted to continue teaching their students from home.
That means somewhere around 1,100 teachers lost the medical accommodation they felt they needed to protect their lives. The teachers had a decision to make: report to school on Jan. 11, resign, or apply for leave, Gottlieb says, adding, "We're just asking for compassion."
Bu the state has pushed school districts to bring more struggling students back into the classroom. In turn, Broward school system leaders may lessen compliance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for social distancing.
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