PARKLAND, FL- Students in Broward County are being highly encouraged to return to physical classrooms this month. As the 2021 calendar year gets going, the encouragement comes despite the significant growth of the Coronavirus pandemic across the country. Many people, including Broward residents and Parkland parents, are questioning the rush to return to school while the COVID-19 infection rates and overall numbers are higher than ever.

Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie shared in recent video that schools have been proven to not be sources of spread for the pandemic. This reason appears to be the most significant rationale for a return to school. However, the average in-person attendance at Broward Schools in the fall was around 30% of overall enrollment, which is far short of the number of students returning to school in January. 

"As a Parkland parent, I was really surprised to receive the email from the superintendent, strongly encouraging students to return to the classrooms now," said Parkland parent Lauryn Shapiro.  "Although I do understand that families have different circumstances, and that going to the classroom may be the right choice for some, it seems highly irresponsible to encourage all students to return, given that the infection rate is at an all-time high."

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The return to classrooms officially begins on Wednesday, January 13. Parents, teachers, and staff alike are hoping for a healthy and permanent return to school. In the fall, Broward Schools required infection rates to be below 5% to consider returning students to school. Currently, the daily infection rate range the past two weeks is between 9% and 13%.

Broward School Board Member Debbi Hixon also spoke into the issue.

"The governor’s order called for bringing students that were failing back into the school building, parents can opt out, but they will have to sign something. As far as I know, based on discussion I have had, social distancing will continue to be enforced," said Debbi Hixon.