Thousands meet virtually to discuss reopening Orange County classrooms in fall

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — A teleconference call hosted by the Orange County Classroom Teachers Association on Thursday drew in more than 2,000 people as they discussed what the new school year could look like amid a pandemic.

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Union representatives, school board members, teachers and parents discussed social distancing, cleanliness and mask wearing, and how that can be done in crowded classrooms, busy buses and packed playgrounds.

“There are (hundreds) of different things that need to be solved here,” said Randi Weingarten with the American Federation of Teachers. “It’s a logistical challenge.”


Resources and funding were also up for discussion. School officials said they are looking to lawmakers to pass the HEROES Act that was introduced in May by House Democrats and includes money for schools.

A few weeks ago, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a plan for reopening schools at full capacity for a traditional start to the academic year.

Read: Florida reports second day of 5,000+ new COVID-19 cases, including record-high increase in Orange County

“If our numbers continue to climb there could be a different direction coming from the state level,” Orange County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Barbara Jenkins said.

She said the next pivotal point in the timeline is July 14, when they hope to have a decision as to what next school year could look like.

Read: Who is dying of COVID-19 in Orange County? Breakdown by ethnicity, preexisting conditions

Adam Poulisse,

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.