ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — UPDATE: WFTV News anchor Greg Warmoth talked with Orange County Public Schools Dr. Barbara Jenkins about the proposed reopening plans. See the full interview below:
Read our previous coverage below:
Officials with Orange County Public Schools spent more than 10 hours discussing their reopening plans and how to work through concerns from teachers and parents while meeting the state’s requirements.
During the meeting, school board members and district staff discussed three options.
The first is for families who want to return to the classroom, while options two and three allow kids to stay home.
However, the details of option 1 made up much of the 90-page presentation, addressing many situations such as busing.
The district said it does not have enough buses to accommodate social distancing on each one, so they’re discussing assigned seats and requiring face coverings.
Once at school, staff and students will likely have to keep their faces covered.
The plan mentioned using face shields instead of masks for Pre-K to second grade as a possible option.
“Knowing my first-grader, he needs to wear a face shield, because when he wears his mask for 30 minutes, he constantly (chews on) it and constantly touches it,” said Mikaela Walker, an Orange County parent of an 11-year-old and 5-year-old.
The school district has also discussed adding clear partitions between desks.
The proposed plan also discussed temperature checks, a sick room at the nurse’s office, and possible shorter school days without lunch or PE to avoid large gatherings of students.
The school board will finalize the plan at their meeting next week.
Walker said she has already enrolled her 11-year-old in virtual school.
“I just thought, middle school, they move around constantly,” she said. “Same thing in high school.”
As for her youngest, Walker said the family wanted to “see what the plans were going to be and to see what would work best.”
Before the meeting, Orange County’s teachers union organized a protest, saying it should have had more input in the reopening plan before it was presented to the school board.
In addition to the in-class instruction, Orange County Public Schools’ plan also includes Orange County Virtual School, for families who do not want children to return onsite.
The option is an extension of Florida Virtual School, and means students do all work online, with some live sessions each week. It is already approved and fully accredited by the state.
Another learn-at-home option is what the district is called OCPS LaunchED@Home, where students would follow a traditional school bell schedule.
Students will be in each lesson on a live stream, and working with and interacting with local teachers at the same time as other students.
The district said it would like a commitment to its virtual option of at least one semester at a time. But if it’s not working for the student then, on a case-by-case basis, the district could decide to allow the student to transition back to the classroom.
WFTV Anchor Nancy Alvarez moderated an education town hall Tuesday morning on Channel 9′s Facebook page. She was joined by members of the Orange County School Board, University of Central Florida staff and Latino leaders.
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