DAVIE, FLA. (WSVN) - The first batch of Broward County Public Schools students returned to campus for the first time in months.
The students’ return comes after multiple cases of COVID-19 were reported by Miami-Dade County Public Schools, and the first day back is different than in years past.
“I was extremely proud today of how our district worked,” Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said.
On Friday, Runcie visited Fox Trail Elementary, at 1250 S. Nob Hill Road, in Davie, welcomed students back and toured the school grounds to ensure all safety measures were in place. Afterwards, he headed to Plantation Park Elementary School to grab some lunch.
“Our administrators are amazing,” said Runcie. “They figure out how to do whatever they need to do to make it work.”
He said about 20% of the 270,000 students opted for in-person learning.
Classrooms have been equipped with hand sanitizers and personal protective equipment (PPE) and desks have been placed six feet apart.
Signage has also been placed all across the campus to remind students to social distance and to keep themselves clean.
“If you’re able to do this in a way that’s as orderly as possible, it gives everyone more confidence — the parents, the students, the teachers,” Runcie said.
7News asked some parents for their thoughts on the first day back, and they had mixed reviews.
“I’m on the fence,” said parent Marie Patino. “I think that they’re taking the precautions that they need to take, and, you know, we’ll see how it goes.”
“He’s kind of nervous, but, you know, my son is happy to go back to school,” said parent Ana Marte. “A little bit different, but it’s happening.”
Anna Fusco, the president of the Broward Teachers Union, said she was pleased with the safety measures that were taken.
“You can see that they worked hard to get social distancing creative,” she said.
7SkyForce HD captured the moment students got off their school bus at McArthur High School and were greeted by staff in full PPE.
Before heading to tour schools, Runcie inspected the school buses to ensure they were clean and in accordance with the safety measures put in place.
Runcie spoke with 7News about what the district plans to do if a student contracts COVID-19.
“They will be assessed per the county’s assessment guidelines they provided for us, so we’ll handle everything on a case by case basis to see what level of closure will be necessary should any cases arise — could be classroom-based, could be multiple classrooms, it may be an entire school for a few days,” he said.
Runcie said the presence of COVID-19 cases is not an if but a when.
“We anticipate that we are going to find and have cases in Broward,” he said. “I don’t know what the extent of it is going to be, but we’re prepared for that eventuality.”
The schools are also equipped with an isolation room where students who exhibit symptoms will be housed to be assessed.
The school day ended with parents, eager to hear about their child’s first day back to school, picking up their children from the campus.
All students who chose to return to in-person learning will do so by Oct. 15.
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