‘Back to School: What Parents Need to Know’: 9 things we learned

ORLANDO, Fla. — WFTV Channel 9 and 9 Family Connection presented “Back to School: What Parents Need to Know” Thursday evening.

The comprehensive special helped parents as they prepare their children to return to school both online and in-person.

Here are nine things we learned from the special:

1. Why did Orange County Public Schools change its start date to Aug. 10?

Orange County Public Schools superintendent Barbara Jenkins said “I think it’s two-fold. One, it gets our employees paid. Our teachers especially don’t have to have another two-week delay in their pay, but it also it gives everyone a good chance for a dress rehearsal to make sure everyone can abide by the LaunchEd platform. That will be our go-to should something change, something else shifts and we don’t have face-to-face (learning) for some reason.”

2. What happens if someone tests positive for COVID-19 in an Orange County school?

“The department of health would walk through it with us. What was the actual exposure? They do contact tracing. They certainly would limit who we have to have and additional testing for based on that contact tracing.”

Read: Orange County teachers union, school district reach impasse over reopening plan

3. What should Seminole County parents know as they prepare for the upcoming school year?

Seminole County Public Schools superintendent Walt Griffin said “First of all, we understand all of the angst that everyone is going through. We’ve listened very, very closely to our parents, to our teachers. We’ve moved to only have two choice to four choices.”

4. Why did Brevard Public Schools push their start date to the end of August?

Brevard Public Schools superintendent Mark Mullins said “We gave careful consideration to the preparations that were needed to be ready for a very different look to the school year. We have multiple platforms for our parents and families to consider and for teachers to become more familiar with. We felt like the additional planning time for our teachers, adding four more days to the preplanning week as well as more time for our schools administrators to be prepared was prudent for the school year.”

5. What should Brevard County parents do to prepare their children for school?

“Parents, if you would reach out to your child’s school, connect with the administration, with the guidance office and begin talking about the options and what’s best for your student. We really need our parents to reach out and make that contact with their school to start to express their intent for the upcoming school year,” Mullins said.

Read: Florida back-to-school tax holiday: What’s tax free and when to shop

6. What are the pros and cons of distance learning versus face-to-face learning?

“I think parents really need to know their kids and their kids learning styles. The age, going into preschool, ability to learn virtually.

Officials said parents should remember there is no one right answer. It’s a very personal decision about what is right for your situation and your family.

7. What are Lake County School District parents most interested in knowing about the upcoming school year?

Lake County School District superintendent Diane Kornegay said “I think parents are most interested in knowing about what their options are. They have four options to choose from that contain all the information about what they need to know.”

The district is offering the following options:

  • Traditional in-school learning
  • Full-time online learning through Lake County Virtual School
  • Modified day learning: a combination of the two choices above.

The district launched a new website that explains the differences between the options. To learn more, click here.

8. Should parents involve their children in the decision they make?

“You definitely need to involve your kids. I think that involvement may differ based on your flexibility in your decision. If you decision is what it is and there is no changing that decision, then your involvement with your kids at any age in a developmentally appropriate way needs to be focused on preparing them, engaging them, helping them understand the rational behind your decision,” an expert said.

Read: Which Central Florida school district is at greatest risk of COVID-19 community spread?

9. What advice do you have for parents putting their children back in face-to-face instruction?

Dr. Dena Grayson said “We are a hot zone right now and I think it is not advisable to reopen the schools for learning, unfortunately.”

She said for schools to be safe for students, everyone needs to be physically separated and everyone needs to wear a mask.

“The worst thing we could do right now is to have people coming back, mass gatherings indoors. We all know how difficult it is to wear a mask, let alone for kids to wear masks,” she said.

Katlyn Brieskorn, WFTV.com

Katlyn Brieskorn is a Digital Assignment Editor at WFTV. She joined Channel 9 in July 2019.