ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Orange County students head back to school on Monday, but the school year is going to start off much more differently than usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and some families said they’re still being bombarded with new information.
One parent said her fourth grade teacher and kindergartener at Keene’s Crossing Elementary School still don’t have their devices for class.
Orange County Public Schools is reminding families that there won’t be any penalties if a child isn’t able to participate in virtual instruction during the first nine days.
Superintendent Dr. Barbara Jenkins said those nine days should be a sort of in-case-of-emergency drill.
For students who depend on free or reduced lunch, OCPS said meals will be available Monday afternoon starting a half an hour after normal dismissal. Students will receive a week’s worth of meals each time.
Though school starts next week, students won’t go back to the classroom first. For the first nine days, all students will have to learn online, using the district’s LaunchEd@Home program.
On Aug. 21, face-to-face learning will begin for students and families who opted to return to a traditional classroom setting.
The school district posted a guide to help students and parents with LaunchEd. You can watch them below:
The school district said a handful of schools have received devices to pass out over the weekend.
Third-grade teacher Jamia Weaver said a lot has changed, but some things have stayed the same.
“A lot of things we used last year, we’re using again -- just enhanced,” she said.
Through LaunchEd@Home, students will be able to see their teacher, and teachers will be able to see the students.
When in-class instruction begins, the schools will be equipped with reusable and disposable masks, and five thermometers.
Weaver said with precautions like those, she feels safe heading back to the classroom.
“I felt like coming back I would feel very safe and comfortable with my kids,” she said.
However, Wendy Doromal, president of the Orange County Classroom Teachers Association, said a “majority our our members (are) to go back to brick-and-mortar sites.”
The union said it wants the district to follow CDC guidelines, and thinks face-to-face learning should only happen when Orange County’s new COVID-19 cases decline for 14 straight days, and the positivity rate is in the single digits.
However, the union recently declared an impasse in its negotiations with the district.
"We're going nowhere. We're spinning our wheels," Doromal said.
In addition to online classes beginning, there will also be a hearing for a lawsuit the teachers union filed against the district.
The Academic Center for Excellence said 22% of students have signed up for face-to-face learning.
As schools get ready to resume classes, the coronavirus pandemic has made it harder for some families to afford supplies.
But some families are getting help. See the full story below:
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