By Joan Murray

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – While many teachers in Broward County have returned to the classroom, many others have not, citing health concerns.

The Broward School District was able to build a playground not just for the kids of Bennett Elementary in Poinsettia Heights, but for the entire neighborhood.

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“We are fortunate that we have 51 percent of students back and the other half are working from home. More and more are returning every day,” says Principal Danielle Smith.

Many Broward teachers who were working remotely have returned to the classroom
after their union sued and an arbitrator ruled in the district’s favor.

But hundreds of teachers are in limbo, saying they can not return because of health issues.

Five work at Beachside Montessori school in Hollywood including Nelson Malhao.

“This past Friday, we were told they couldn’t accommodate anymore and I don’t understand because my kids were thriving, “ he says.

Malhao is a math teacher who says he must work virtually because of health reasons and because he lives with his elderly grandmother.

“I have to use my sick days and then go on leave and that means no paycheck and my wife is in the same boat too,” he says.

The district says following strict safety rules they have kept the COVID infection rate low.

Although the union says since school started in January, at least ten teachers have gotten sick.

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Broward schools chief Robert Runcie says, “We have fifty percent more kids back since January and we have to balance the needs of the district. It’s important we do not lose an entire generation of kids.”

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Runcie said there is still no word on a timeline to get all teachers and staff vaccinated.

“We have fifty percent more kids back in the classroom this second semester and
We need to Balance the needs of the
District with the teacher’s needs.

It’s important we not lose an entire generation of kids“ says Superintendent Robert Runcie

The superintendent said there is still no word on A timeline to get all teachers and staff vaccinated.

Malhao says, ironically he’s been told his replacement is a part-timer who will work
virtually.

“You are telling me to meet the needs and yet another teacher works remotely. There’s no difference,” he says.

About one hundred Broward teachers have chosen to retire.

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Principals must provide documentation detailing why they refuse to allow a teacher to work remotely.