JACKSONVILLE, Fla — The Duval County School Board now has to rework its plan to open schools during the pandemic.
The state is now mandating brick-and-mortar schools be open five days a week in the fall.
One teacher is concerned how they will be able to manage social distancing.
While the state is requiring that schools open five days a week, the school board chairman tells me parents still have an option to keep their kids at home.
One teacher is stressed ahead of this school year.
“I’ve tried to do the best to social distance and shelter at home through this crisis, I don’t believe I’d be safe in the classroom,” the teacher said.
The teacher did not want to be identified but says they are concerned a full reopening of schools could cause a spike in COVID-19 cases both among teachers and students.
The mandate says fully opening schools will ensure the well-being of students and Florida’s economy.
Warren Jones, Duval County School Board chair says this decision was not surprising.
“I know that the Governor said earlier he wanted schools to fully reopen. Our plan, it does set us back because the superintendent had outlined a reopening plan that didn’t require five days a week in class”
“We ask parents, students and teachers to be patient. We’ve never been in a pandemic before, there’s no manual to tell you how to reopen schools during a pandemic,” Jones adds.
He says the district will soon vote to allow students the option of learning at home full time.
Jones says this applies to kids in advanced placement or international baccalaureate programs.
“If you have concerns for the health of your family or children and choose not to enter them in school and to go virtual, you should not lose your spot,” Jones said.
He said that it’s not realistic for all kids to wear masks during their time in school.
Jones says the district has purchased masks and plans to move forward with the purchase of face shields and desk shields for students.
For this teacher, he feels there will be little to no room for social distancing if all kids are back in school.
“Knowing about the need for social distancing and the ability to do that effectively on the buses, in the classroom, in the hallways…is very low if not zero if you mandate the kids are coming to the building five days a week,” the teacher said.
The Florida Department of Education will have to sign off on the district’s reopening plan.
He says the district will vote soon on a change that will allow students to learn at home full time in the fall if they choose.
The School Board is discussing their reopening plan and other issues in their regularly scheduled board meeting.