CORAL SPRINGS, FL – In a new video, Broward County Public Schools administrators are encouraging parents to send their children back to face-to-face learning in classrooms. 

Schools, officials said, are taking considerable precautions to prevent Covid-19 spread and are generally safe for learning.  

And a new national study may back their assessment: reopening schools may be safer than previously thought, at least in places where the virus spread isn’t out of control, according to a National Public Radio report.

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"Many continue to learn at home through e-learning with only a small percentage returning to our classrooms," School Board Chair Dr. Rosalind Osgood said. "We cannot continue to endure the high costs to our students of this prolonged period of remote learning."

The school district hopes to close the achievement gap by getting students back to traditional classrooms, Superintendent Robert Runcie said.

As more students return, schools will continue to require masks and physical distancing, Runcie said.

"The precautions we are taking in our schools are working," Runcie said. "Schools are expected to be less than 50 percent capacity for the second semester and will continue to maintain physical distancing along with cleaning and sanitizing protocols." 

The NPR report said the study, from the National Center for Research on Education Access and Choice at Tulane University, focused on hospitalization rates as a more reliable indicator of virus spread than positivity rates.

One of their findings, according to the report: in many communities studied, hospitalizations appeared to go down after schools reopened in part because of rules around social distancing and wearing masks at schools - norms that may not have been enforced in homes.

As of Friday, there were 608 people hospitalized in Broward County, according to the Florida Department of Health. The county’s positivity rate was 9.81%.

Students newly returning to face-to-face learning will start on Wednesday, the beginning of the third quarter. 

"We strongly encourage parents who desire to send their students back to campus for live face-to-face instruction with teachers to do so now," Runcie said.

 

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