By Ted Scouten

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Broward teachers with health concerns, who have been working from home are expected back in the classroom on Monday, but many are pushing back.

“I’ve decided today with my husband that I will be taking a leave,” said teacher Elisa Cartagena.

Cartagena is not heading back to the classroom on Monday like the Broward School district is asking. She’s a teacher and speech therapist and has a health condition. She’s been teaching from home and says she can’t risk going back.

“As a teacher, I sacrifice a lot over my 21-year career, but I’m not willing to sacrifice my health. That’s just where the line draws for me,” she adds.

Watch CBS4′ Jessica Vallejo’s report:


“As of this morning, our schools have granted over 600 remote work assignments based on operational needs,” said Robert Runcie, Broward Schools Superintendent.

Runcie said of the 1,700 teachers who have been working from home, 600 of them have been given permission to continue working remotely.

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“We can no longer continue to warehouse our students in cafeterias, gyms, and media centers while teachers are at home,” said Runcie.

Right now, about a quarter of the district’s students are in the classroom. The plan is to bring more back — up to nearly half. That’s why they need more teachers. It’s especially important for the 59,000 students who are underperforming.

“We found that students with F grades, the number are up from 4% to 11%. Our habitually truant students. Those are students who have missed more than 15 days of school, that number went from 1,700 to over 8,200,” Runcie said.

The Broward Teacher’s union filed suit, trying to stop educators from being forced to return. Even though 600 are allowed to continue working from home, the union said that does not go far enough.

“That still doesn’t resolve that we have 1,600 that were considered with the most severe health concerns and it still violates our contract,” said Anna Fusco with the Broward Teachers Union.

Runcie said a lot of teachers’ concerns would be alleviated if they were given priority status to get the vaccine.

Runcie said he is working with state legislators to get that done.

Ted Scouten