After cutting the 2019-20 school year short this past spring, it appears that Covid-19 will be interrupting the 2020-21 calendar as well. Local students have been eagerly awaiting a decision from the Broward County School Board regarding whether or not they will be expected to physically return this fall. On the other hand, parents have just as much of a stake in the ruling. Although having their children at home has become a major adjustment, many Parkland and Coral Springs parents are happy to do so considering the alternative.
Ultimately, the decision to go back or not is in the hands of Broward County school Superintendent Robert Runcie. He addressed the county in a virtual workshop on July 14th, stating “If conditions do not improve, and continue to worsen, that [distance learning] is the only way we can educate our students while keeping them and our teachers healthy and safe.” With the first day of school scheduled for August 19th, it’s hard to imagine conditions dramatically improving to the point of placing children in crowded classrooms.
According to incoming junior Sophia H., a poll was taken amongst Stoneman Douglas students to determine if the majority would prefer hybrid online and in-person classes, or 100% online for their first semester. She concludes, “Online classes won the vote. I voted for it because I can actually do school work without worrying about getting sick or bringing Coronavirus home to my parents.”
Coral Springs resident Octavia B. has two children who are students at Riverside Elementary. She agrees that having all five kids at home is stressful, but can’t imagine her youngsters being protected from the virus at school. She adds, “I can’t even get my 6 and 8-year-old to keep their masks on for 5 minutes at the grocery store. Plus, they want to touch everything they see. It would be impossible to put them in masks and keep them apart from each other. I’d feel better just having them at home until things get better.” Octavia says her kids are happy to stay home for the time being.
“I like being home from school. It feels like summer is just not going to end,” claims Westglades Middle 7th grader Kayla S. She lives with her parents and two brothers who also attend public schools in the community. However, she admits there is one drawback, “It will be weird without my teachers. Doing it all online isn’t the same—and I don’t know what I’m going to do without my friends.”
Fortunately, many parents and students in the area are supportive of the continued distance learning, which appears to be the inevitable resolution. However, some parents have raised questions regarding the quality of learning their children will receive. It’s a grey area in certain cases, but it’s important to stick together as a community (6 feet apart, of course.) No choice is made lightly, and we must remind ourselves that this pandemic is new territory for everyone.