SCPS announces reopening plan

Parents and students have until July 24 to pick from one of the four options provided.

The+SCPS+school+board+brainstorms+ideas+on+a+Zoom+meeting+on+July+14.+They+held+a+vote+later+that+evening+to+make+an+official+decision%2C+yet+assure+parents+and+students+that+it+can+change+should+the+situation+call+for+it.

photo by Seminole County School Board

The SCPS school board brainstorms ideas on a Zoom meeting on July 14. They held a vote later that evening to make an official decision, yet assure parents and students that it can change should the situation call for it.

Rife with speculation and conflicting news about COVID-19, the past few months have been a whirlwind. Months of social distancing and calls for prolonged quarantine and state shutdowns have defined the summer, but the future has been unclear regarding students and their return to school.

On July 14, the SCPS school board held a meeting to brainstorm ideas for protocol to proceed with the reopening of schools while keeping faculty and students safe. Due to an executive order from the state, they cannot postpone or cancel in-school learning. 

In the order released July 6, Education Florida Commissioner Richard Corcoran wrote, “All school boards and charter school governing boards must open brick and mortar schools at least five days per week for all students.”

 

Complying with the state, SCPS has officially released four options to continue with academic learning. Students and parents must make a decision by July 24 at noon.

The school board has acknowledged that there is a medical risk in reopening in-person school, and has pushed the start of school to August 17. Seminole County Medical Director, Dr. Todd Husty, has also warned parents that students could possibly spread the virus not only at school, but to family members at home. 

With health and safety concerns in mind, the four learning models offered are diverse and considerate of the variety of opinions and desires of parents based on numerous surveys sent in the summer. These include face-to-face learning, enrollment in Seminole County Virtual School, Seminole Connect and hybrid learning.

Face-to-face learning entails traditional schooling, with a five day week at school, in regular classrooms with teachers. Principal Frasca is excited to welcome students to the start of the school year, but is prepared to enforce changes on campus to follow school safety procedures.

“I trust our people; I think we have a great campus and great kids who listen to the directions we give them. We have a job to do, we have to follow SCPS and SCPS guidelines,” Frasca said.

Strong political opinions have surrounded the coronavirus. Some have called for strict mask mandates, while others feel masks are a violation of rights. While maintaining that everyone has the right to choose and the right to their opinion, Frasca has stated that school rules will be enforced, and that students will not be allowed on campus if they ignore requirements put in place.

Seminole County Virtual Schools is an at-home, virtual method for students to continue their studies. Its online classes follow state standards, with some courses being made by SCPS. Students and parents can make their own daily schedule, with access to SCPS teachers on weekdays from 8 a.m to 8 p.m. This year, if students successfully complete the full first semester online at SCVS, they are able to attend on campus classes in January 2021.

The Seminole Connect alternative is a new program. While it is at-home, online learning, it follows a school day schedule that students must follow, which sets it apart from SCVS. If possible, with certain technology, students will also be able to participate in live learning as they interact with teachers in real-time. After every 9-week period, students have the option to return to face-to-face learning with the same teachers, provided it is possible. 

Junior Sebastian Fernandez has decided to participate in Seminole Connect. He is unhappy with how the state has handled COVID and the actions the governor has taken.

“It is not safe. DeSantis is letting us go back to a dangerous environment and it infuriates me. [Seminole] Connect will let me have the order and the schedule of school from home,” Fernandez said. 

Combining at-home learning and traditional school, the hybrid learning option allows students to meet their specific needs. They can have a partial day schedule at school, or a completely virtual school day. Seminole Connect classes can be combined with SCVS or with face-to-face learning. There is also the option to have both SCVS and Seminole Connect or SCVS and face-to-face learning. 

Senior Colby Mang feels that his difficult classes constitute the need for an in-person experience. He plans on using the hybrid option to combine SCVS classes while attending on-campus class as well.

“I am going to take my harder classes in school because it is better for me to have a teacher for them, and take my easier classes virtually,” Mang said. 

Plans are subject to change depending on positive COVID cases and deaths.

 Florida is a hotspot for the coronavirus cases and deaths, and continues to set records. As of July 19,  Seminole County has 5,232 positive cases with 41 deaths; in the past four days, the number of cases has increased by almost 700 and the number of deaths has went up by at least 20. The lack of improvement has caused panic and worry among citizens, but there are safeguards in place to slow and prevent the spread in schools.

Hagerty will require masks covering the mouth and nose, which can be briefly removed when eating lunch or for high intensity outdoor activities. Other new policies include one-way traffic in hallways, zero use of lockers, and an alternate bell schedule. 

While athletic programs will still continue, other extracurriculars cannot continue to have meetings on campus. The goal is to eliminate close contact as much as possible; to accomplish this, there will be many updates and adjustments to look out for. 

The staff and student body is expected to adjust to a new normal; things will not be the same. Frasca expects criticism and is ready to handle difficulties, but ultimately is focused on making the best of the school year.

“The priority doesn’t change, it is always the safety and priority of students and staff. It is the case, will always be the case,” Frasca said.

456 Views