'We’re in a crisis’: Orange County teachers raise concerns over taking attendance during virtual learning

With schools closed due to the coronavirus pandemic and students learning from home, some Orange County teachers are now raising concerns about taking student attendance.

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — With schools closed due to the coronavirus pandemic and students learning from home, some Orange County teachers are now raising concerns about taking student attendance.

“Teachers are afraid to mark students present when they don’t virtually see them,” said Wendy Doromal, president of the Orange County Classroom Teachers Association. “If something happened to the child, or the child got in trouble or something, what is the liability? A lot of them have sent that concern.”

“Coronavirus

Content Continues Below

The union shared a memo from the school district that says students are considered present if there’s some sort of contact or engagement between the student or their parent that can happen by computer or phone.

But Doromal said that’s not always as easy as it sounds, especially for younger students who weren’t issued a laptop or if their parents didn’t provide an email.

The union said it wants grades from completed assignments to serve as proof of attendance.

“We appreciate that the district wants to continue as it is normal, but we’re not in a normal situation, we’re in a crisis,” Doromal said.

In a statement, the Orange County Public Schools said:

“The district follows the direction of the Florida Department of Education. The state has not waived the requirement of recording student attendance which impacts funding. Our attendance system’s default records all students as present, unless manually marked absent by staff. In an effort to ensure all students are receiving distance learning it is vital that student attendance is recorded.”