Orange County school officials vote to submit reopening plans to state, if approved students return Aug. 21

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Orange County school officials voted to submit plans for reopening to the state Friday. They are also asking for a waiver that would give the district the option to not reopen if they deem it is not safe to return due to the coronavirus.

If the plan is approved, students will return to school Aug. 21.

The plan includes three options for parents: face-to-face learning, virtual school or a third innovative option.

Read: Orange County Public Schools tables decision on reopening plan until Friday

Several board members expressed concern over allowing students and teachers to return to face-to-face learning.

Board members said they want the final say if classrooms reopen to face-to-face learning because the state will fund schools differently depending on the option families choose.

Without a third option, the district could lose tens of millions of dollars and layoff hundreds, maybe thousands of local teachers.

That’s why the board spent five hours going back and forth on the three options.

The three options are:

  • Face-to-face learning, but only if local coronavirus data shows it’s safe for a return.
  • Virtual school. The district prefers if parents choose Orange County Virtual School because the district would still get some state funding. Although, it would be less than for a child in a classroom.
  • OCPS LaunchED at home, which is an innovative distance learning options where students will be taught by teachers from their assigned school.

The state said it will fully fund students in an innovative option, but that’s with the assurance brick and mortar schools open in August, which the board isn’t ready to guarantee.

If the option is not approved and a third of parents choose virtual school it would be financially crippling for the district.

Parents and teachers will also be surveyed ahead of the reopening to find out what their needs are. The board said it could make adjustments to the plan based on the results of the survey.

Superintendent Barbara Jenkins said if the board did not approve the plan, it would leave parents the option of face-to-face or virtual school.

Read: Keeping track of back-to-school plans in Central Florida

During the meeting, many board members said they were receiving messages saying people were confused about what the board voted for.

Cierra Putman

Cierra Putman, WFTV.com

Cierra Putman flew south to join Eyewitness News in July 2016.

Katlyn Brieskorn, WFTV.com

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

Q Mccray

Q McCray, WFTV.com

Q McCray is an award-winning general assignment reporter.

Christopher Boyce, WFTV.com

Christopher Boyce joined WFTV in January of 2019.