Last Friday, a city meeting was held to outline the plan for the return to in-person teaching. People in attendance included Principal Gary Springer, Vice Principal Jodi Robins, and City Commissioners Larry Vignola and Joshua Simmons, among others. The meeting was held in the wake of the announcement that Broward Schools would be reopening, even amid the concerns of teachers and students about the risk of spreading COVID-19. Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie commented on the reasoning behind the decision in a statement. “The state requires public schools to open,” said Runcie. “At the same time, we recognize there’s a population that wants to come back to our schools and those families should have that option.”
In the introduction of the Friday meeting, Springer expressed a similar sentiment about wanting to reopen without forcing families into a decision they aren’t comfortable with. “All of our schools in [Charter Schools USA] are serving students with mobile and in-person options, and that’s what we’re ultimately seeking to do once this board deems appropriate.” said Springer.
Springer went on to clarify general rules for the reopening of the school, including mandatory masks and the prohibition of large gatherings. “I know in some cases that may not sound like the spirit of school, but I think many families understand that’s just not how it’s going to be at this time.” It was also established that one hour prior to physically attending the school, a health survey must be filled out by families that will help ensure safety. The details of the survey can be found here.
In terms of when families will be able to make their decision on whether or not to send their students back, Springer said “My goal is to push that out next week,” but also stated that he wanted to have “sessions” with families where he could go more in-depth with the plan. He said the sessions would include “internal videos” that would “make sure they have context prior to being put in a position to make a decision.” Further details and a time for these sessions were unspecified in the meeting.
City Commissioner Joshua Simmons voiced his concerns during the meeting over Broward County’s handling of the return to school. “A lot of decisions are being made, but it’s not with care or understanding of how teachers are feeling or things of that nature, and I think everybody in this call knows how I feel about teachers,” said Simmons. Simmons himself is a Government and Economics teacher at Coral Springs High School. Springer assured the board that he was staying communicative with his staff and listening to their concerns, and would “follow through as appropriate.” Springer voiced his own concerns of his employees. “The last thing I want to do is lose good teachers, great teachers.”
As for student opinion on the return to physical learning, some students are eager to get back to Charter. “I find my attention span to be extremely bad online and I have the power to decide how often I go to class and I’m scared I’ll abuse it,” said senior Tsaryi Grant. On the other hand, some students are skeptical about the return. “There is still so much going on in our world and jumping right back into school right now will be tricky,” said Senior Class President Chandler Gentile. “My concerns are: How will school work? Will we be hybrid or completely all back together? Will we have more hands on learning or will we be forced to stay on the computer all day? These concerns will help me choose what I would like to do, but as of now I still don’t know,” said Gentile.
Springer is overall optimistic about returning to school. “We are ready for a return to campus. We miss our students and look forward to doing what we do best. The ability to create and grow relationships in person is priceless. It is also of my belief that we also respect the decisions that families will soon be making whether it is the choice to return to campus or stay in a mobile setting. Either way, we hope to provide an exceptional educational experience. We will be great!”
More details on the return back to school are expected to be announced this week.