Educators contemplating new normal for public schools
Florida’s Reopen Task Force has set a goal to open schools this Fall.
Now school boards, superintendents and teachers are faced with the difficult task of figuring out how to make it happen and keep students and faculty safe.
Just four sentences of the state’s 32 page reopening plan are dedicated to education.
It calls for schools to reopen, but doesn’t describe what that would look like.
We asked Leon County School Superintendent Rocky Hanna what he’s been able to extrapolate from what the state has put out so far.
“Quite honestly not a lot,” said Hanna.
Hanna is grappling with how to social distance in schools.
It poses some huge challenges.
“Do you go to put 50 or 60 kids on a school bus and how is that social distancing? What do things look like in the cafeteria?” said Hanna.
One idea Hanna floated would be to stagger schedules.
Half of students would be in the classroom one day and switch to distance learning the next.
The CDC has put out its own guidance for safety in the classroom.
It recommends staggering arrival times of students, restricting access of nonessential visitors and maintaining social distancing on busses, in classrooms and cafeterias.
But nothing is set in stone yet.
The Florida School Boards Association told us, there likely won’t be one end all plan.
Instead, FSBA Executive Director Andrea Messina asserts schools and parents must be prepared to adapt.
“Next year is going to be what I would dub, a laboratory year,” said Messina. “Ideally everything is going to be just like it was at the beginning of this Fall. That would be plan A, but let's say it doesn't work like that. Then we have plan B and let's say that doesn't work. Then we have plan C.”
Along with the logistical challenges, the Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, is focused on ensuring the safety of vulnerable teachers and students.
“If we have teachers that are of age that are 60 years or older... and more importantly if we have our students and our children that have underlying conditions,” said FEA President Fedrick Ingram.
So far, the union has been left out of reopening discussions.
It’s planning its own reopening task force, which will be announced next week.