TAMARAC, FLA. (WSVN) - The Broward Teachers Union has filed suit against the county’s school board in an effort to prevent some teachers who are instructing remotely from returning to the classroom next week.
As of Monday, all Broward County teachers working from home will have to return to the classroom.
“All instructional bargaining units and all ESPs are required to return to their school worksite next week starting Monday Jan. 11,” Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said.
The teachers union is seeking temporary injunctive relief from teachers going back into the classroom as of Monday. The union also hopes for an emergency expedited arbitration between them and the school board, so they can reach a compromise.
According to the union, about 1,500 teachers are expected to return to campus. However, for many, they cannot return due to health reasons.
“They don’t want to not teach their students,” union president Ana Fusco said. “They don’t want to not return, but they are legitimately afraid that if they return, that they might contract the virus, and they are at the highest risk. They have heart conditions. They have sickle cell. They have cancer.”
“I understand that other districts are not pulling back and making their teachers return, which is an extremely important fact,” Broward School Board Member Nora Rupert said. “We’re asking for basic human rights. Everybody has a right to their health.”
Runcie said some teachers will be allowed an accommodation, but the exact number is unclear. The district is also asking for students to return, as enrollment is down more than8,000 students.
“That is actually a smaller percentage than many school districts in Florida are down,” a Broward School Board member said. “People are not sure where these students are.”
About 60,000 of the students enrolled are failing, according to officials.
“They’ve got multiple Fs. They’re failing classes,” Runcie said. “They have a host of other issues, a lot of absences.”
The superintendent hopes teachers will get moved to the front of the line when it comes to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, and Fusco agrees.
“We’re hoping that our teachers will get some type of priority for the vaccine,” Fusco said. “That could be a game changer for a lot of them: that they know they’re vaccinated, they’re more protected.”
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