FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - An arbitrator ruled in favor of Broward County Public Schools on a COVID-related matter, saying Superintendent Robert Runcie had the right to order a majority of teachers who had been working from home to return to on-campus instruction.
The union had filed a lawsuit saying the superintendent’s order overstepped his bounds.
In reaction to the arbitrator’s ruling, Runcie said, “This is a win for our students. We recognize the health concerns of our teachers, and we will continue to balance their needs with the needs of our students who are struggling and must be back in a safe and healthy school for face-to-face learning.”
The district has allowed 600 of the 1,700 educators who proved to have an underlying medical condition to continue with remote-teaching.
“I got people still calling me — ‘Stage four cancer,’ ‘I have one kidney,’ ‘I’ve got Type 2 diabetes,'” Broward Teachers Union President Anna Fusco said.
Investigators looked into the teachers’ social media accounts. According to the Sun Sentinel, one teacher was seen attending a wedding in Jamaica, another attended a campaign event for President Joe Biden and one was seen at a zoo.
Attorneys argued if the teachers can attend these events and travel, they can attend school, but the teachers union disagreed.
“Who they were with, were they in their bubble? Were they still able to maintain a social distance in an outside atmosphere?” Fusco said.
Alicia Blonde, a teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, is one of the 1,100 teachers who have been told to return to the classroom. She said she is sitting in an empty classroom while teaching children at home.
“The plan is to take care of myself as much as possible,” she said.
However, Runcie said too many children are falling behind in their studies, and the only way to save them is in the classroom.
“Remote learning is working for some students, but for far too many, it is not working at all,” Runcie said. “This means that there needs to be a teacher at the front of each brick and mortar classroom.”
Teachers who have serious medical conditions who need to stay home are allowed to do so if they work out negotiations with their school’s principal.
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