Orange County says all students should have devices as new school year approaches

Video: Orange County says all students should have devices as new school year approaches

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Orange County school leaders said a handful of schools finally got devices Friday, ahead of Monday’s first day of school in Orange County.

Officials said the devices will be handed out over the weekend, as it works to make sure every child is ready for the district’s LaunchEd@Home program.

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The district said all kids should sign in Monday for LaunchEd@Home because this is the pivot option if brick-and-mortar schools must close again due to COVID-19.

While using the program, teachers can see students and students can see teachers.

“A lot of things we used last year, we’re using again,” said third grade teacher, Jamia Weaver.

Aug. 21 is when face-to-face classes are supposed to start, and classrooms are already set up with the desks socially distanced apart.

The Academic Center for Excellence said 22% of kids have signed up for face-to-face learning in Orange County.

“I actually had more teachers that wanted to come face-to-face than Launch Ed,” said principal Wendy Ivory.

But the opposite is true at other schools. In some cases it’s a larger percentage of kids coming back into the classroom.

Some cities will provide parents a place to drop off their children where they’ll be monitored while taking virtual learning classes through Orange County Public Schools beginning next week.

The city of Apopka is opening its Billie Dean Community Center and will watch up to 15 children for free.

Students will get their temperature checks and must wear a face mask, and have to bring their own headphones. Parents are being asked to send their child with lunch and snacks.

The goal is to split up students by age. City officials picked the community center because they know a lot of families in that part of town have to work.

If it fills up, Mayor Bryan Nelson said they have another center “toward the central part of town” they can use.

Orlando and Winter Park officials say they’ll have limited space at a few of their community centers for OCPS students who live in those cities.

In Orlando, small-group learning pods will be set up at six neighborhood centers.

  • Engelwood Neighborhood Center
  • Northwest Neighborhood Center
  • John H. Jackson Neighborhood Center
  • Downtown Recreation Complex
  • Dr. James R. Smith Neighborhood Center
  • Rosemont Neighborhood Center

The Winter Park Community Center will offer an extended program for residents from Aug. 10-21. It is for those entering K-8th grade and the program is limited to an enrollment of 40 students. Current summer camp and after-school participants have first priority for registration. All COVID-19 protocols must be followed.

Meanwhile, some schools have more challenges getting technology in the hands of families than others.

But officials at one school in Parramore told Eyewitness News they have it under control.

At the Academic Center for Excellence, the first nine days will be online learning, then parents have the option to start face-to-face learning. As of now, 220 students will return for face-to-face learning.

In K-5, there will be two teachers per grade with 10 to 12 students in each classroom. In sixth through eighth grade, there will be about seven students per class.

All week, students have picked up laptops and books, and those that needed hotspots were given those too.