Brevard County approves back-to-school plan as some residents ask for delayed start

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — UPDATE: The Brevard County School Board unanimously approved their reopening plan for next month Tuesday night following many hours of debate and discussion.

On Thursday, school district representatives will meet with the Brevard Federation of Teachers to discuss protections for teachers who are about to re-enter the classroom. The union wants to make sure teachers who become ill aren’t penalized and lay out issues such as spelling out available sick time and possible workman comp issues.

The current approved plan is similar to the draft the school board first unveiled last week which includes real-time E-learning, Brevard virtual school and in-person options. The current plan also allows for E-learning for secondary students.

The board did not pass a mask mandate, but did outline clearer guidelines, including students expected to where masks on the bus. Students and staff are also expected to wear a mask when social distancing isn’t possible. However, it’s not entirely clear at this time what social distancing will look like when school begin this year.

School board chairperson, Misty Belford said “We know just from watching what’s going on with Covid the more people you’re around the more risk there is. We’re doing all we can to mitigate as much risk as we can, but it’s not going to be full-proof.”

Misty went on to say,” We will meet class size mandates but beyond that we don’t really have answers until we know how many people are going to opt for some of the more flexible options like E-learning or virtual school.”

The current school board plan also gives the superintendent power to make changes to the reopening plan as necessary.

Read our previous coverage below:

The Brevard County school board is getting closer to a vote on its reopening plan as protesters staged a park-in protest Tuesday against reopening schools next month.

The discussion is still underway, but among the superintendent’s proposals is delaying the start of the school year to August 17 to give teachers and students more time to prepare for classes.

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

As Brevard County School Board members began to listen to three-hours of prerecorded public comments on the district's reopening plan a protest was already well underway.

A number of parents, teachers and concerned residents said they feel it is too soon to return kids to the classroom, despite a state mandate to reopen schools for in-person classes this fall.

The order also instructs school districts to follow the advice of state and local health officials.

Read: Trump administration rescinds rule to force international students to leave the U.S. if they planned to only take online classes

The district's current plan for in-person instruction does include new protocols for COVID-19 to reduce face to face interactions, social distancing to the extent possible, and calls for an increased frequency of cleaning schools.

When social distancing is not feasible, it is expected that both students and staff will wear face masks.

Officials are exploring a real-time E-learning option for secondary students.

That's already an option for elementary students, along with Brevard Virtual School.

The board is still going through the Brevard Public Schools reopening plan point-by-point.

Read: Brevard Public Schools reveals draft plan for returning students back to school

BPS is also taking steps to change transportation routes to reduce bus capacity and adjusting school schedules to reduce the risk of students congregating in common areas.

Other safety measures are being planned such as plexiglas-like masks, face shields and hand sanitizer plus additional cleaning products on-site at each school along with liquid disinfectant machines.

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

Christopher Boyce,

Christopher Boyce joined WFTV in January of 2019.