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'How will we get students to school?' DCPS superintendent says it's the biggest challenge ahead

“It is very clear that students want to come back to school," DCPS superintendent Dr. Diana Greene said Thursday. "I want it to look as normal as possible."

DUVAL COUNTY, Fla. — This week, Duval County Public Schools approved the purchase of a big ticket item: face masks.

But, plans for what school will look like for your child next year are still in the works.

DCPS Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene said one thing is for sure though -- based on the school district’s survey.

“It is very clear that students want to come back to school," she explained. “I want it to look as normal as possible, but by August we will have a whole different definition of what normal really is.”

Duval County Public Schools is still trying to figure out how it can juggle opening up its doors and its first priority – the safety of students and staff.

Greene said the school district needs a comprehensive plan in place and the resources available to implement that plan.

She said that’s why the district will spend up to $300,000 on face masks for students and staff even though there have been no requirements made to wear them.

“Regardless of what our plan will be, we will need those types of resources," Greene explained. "Since spring break, we have used over 10,000 facial coverings with minimal staff.”

Greene said being prepared ahead of time is what made Duval HomeRoom get on its feet in three days.

“It was because the foundation had already been set -- Microsoft Teams had already been bought. Fourteen hundred teachers had already been trained. When crisis hit, we were able to move quickly.”

The superintendent also mentioned there are a lot of aspects in play aside from what the classroom will look like in the fall if students go back to school, such as athletics and transportation.

“The number one issue for us at this point is how will we get students to school?" Greene asked. "When we look at a 77-passenger bus, if we’re implementing the social distancing guidelines of six feet, we can only transport nine students. That is not cost effective nor could we afford that many buses.”

Greene said Duval County Public Schools is working closely with district subcommittees and state health officials to figure out how it can safely teach students next school year. Although, stakeholders -- students, parents and staff --will also be heard in its online survey. She said DCPS will do its best to accommodate those perceptions.

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