Dear Broward County Public Schools Community,
I hope each of you is doing well. Although this is a time of stress, anxiety and uncertainty for all of us, I believe that as we continue to work together and look out for our children, friends, family, and community, we’ll get through this crisis stronger and better than before.
Thank you for your efforts toward ensuring learning continues for our students. With less than three weeks remaining before the last day of school, Wednesday, June 3, I am providing this update on District summer operations.
The decision on when and how to reopen school operations is a challenging one. Until there is a widely available vaccine to prevent the coronavirus, we must all limit potential exposure by practicing social distancing and embracing testing and monitoring strategies. This is the action we have taken across Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) since March 13, when we announced our school campuses were closing. As we contemplate how to resume District and school-based operations, we are guided by recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and federal, state and local governments, as well as public health experts. Additionally, we are collaborating with education organizations, including the Council of the Great City Schools, Chiefs for Change and the Aspen Institute, to share insights and best practices.
To reduce risk, the following steps are recommended:
- Practice social distancing by maintaining a minimum of six feet away from other people.
- Use personal protective equipment (PPE), specifically face masks, when interacting with other people in public.
- Conduct frequent, high-intensity cleaning of businesses and institutions, including transportation vehicles, which are utilized by the public.
- Perform ongoing testing for the coronavirus to limit the spread of the virus in the community.
- Support the ability of local public health agencies to trace social contacts of individuals who test positive for the virus.
For BCPS, traditional summer operations involve bringing thousands of teachers together for professional learning, gathering tens of thousands of students for numerous District enrichment programs, and hosting a significant number of community organizations for camps and various activities. These programs may require transporting students on buses, providing food service and allowing access to campuses through a single point of entry with security monitoring.
Given the challenge of meeting the conditions needed to safely offer summer programming in the traditional manner, BCPS announces the following changes:
- The District will not physically host any activities during the summer in our school buildings. This includes municipal summer camps, daycare services, Before & After School Child Care and all other activities previously scheduled or anticipated. District staff is working closely with providers to coordinate these programs using distance learning, whenever possible.
- School summer operations will be limited to construction, maintenance, cleaning and preparation for the opening of schools in the fall. Teachers are currently scheduled to return to campuses on Wednesday, August 12. The first day of classes for students is scheduled for Wednesday, August 19.
- Required summer programs including Third Grade Reading Academy, Extended School Year and VPK, pending state approval of VPK programs, will be offered for eligible students using distance learning, supported by extensive use of video chats. Class sizes will be reduced for fewer students per teacher to maximize instructional support and personalization.
- Optional summer programs - including transition camps for rising sixth and ninth grade students, Reimagining Middle Grades Align camps and activity-focused camps will only be offered using distance learning, whenever possible. • Professional learning for staff, including the onboarding of new employees, will be conducted using distance learning.
To support the success of distance learning programs and activities over the summer, the District is allowing students to retain a District issued computer device, if they received one, until the start of the 2020/21 school year when they will be collected and inventoried.
More information on specific summer programs offered by the District will be provided in the next two weeks.
Again, thank you for your engagement and collaboration. We are stronger together, and our combined efforts will benefit our students’ academic, social and emotional health.
Robert W. Runcie Superintendent of Schools