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How Seminole County schools prepared for digital learning to start Monday

District spent week handing out laptops to families for online instruction

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Seminole County School Superintendent Dr. Walt Griffin said he expects a few challenges to happen come Monday with the shift to online learning but for now the plan is to still have students return to their schools on April 15.

He says until then, the more than 67,500 students in the district will be learning from home and stressed Friday the focus is on getting families the laptops they need to make it happen.

“Will it be as good as face to face instruction? it will not,” Griffin said. “Nothing replaces our great teachers interacting with our children day-to-day. Will it be an adequate replacement? Absolutely.”

All week long at designated high schools and middle schools, bus drivers and IT workers have been checking out laptops to families in need,

“I’m very thankful, very thankful,” said Margie McGarity while picking up a computer for her grandson, who is a 2nd grader at Rainbow Elementary.

Atorina Ramos also has a 2nd grader and 5th grader at home and is ready for them to start distance learning on Monday.

"I've been doing my own little homeschooling which is pretty cool because you get to figure out what these teachers kinda go through," said Ramos.

On Friday, there was a steady stream of activity, as parents and students showed up at the Winter Springs High School campus, one of the handful of schools handing out loaner computers on the last day of distribution before online classes start.

“We started doing this on Monday,” Principal Pete Gaffney said. “On Monday, we gave out almost 250 computers. The next day was over 100 - and it continued to build each and every day. I thought it would slow down. It hasn’t.”

The district confirms they loaned out more than 4,500 laptops by Friday. With more going out each hour. The superintendent said they are trusting families to take care of them and return them when the time comes to come back to school.

“The students have laptops, Spectrum has provided free internet to families who did not have it, and we are ready to go,” said Griffin on Friday.

Gaffney said teachers and students are handling the transition to online learning as best they can but he is ready for them to all return to the classroom.

“We love them, we miss them and we are here for them,” Gaffney said.

Griffin said there is a helpline available to parents and students who run into any trouble on the school district’s website.

As for graduations and proms? Griffin said all of that is still on hold until they get more direction from the governor on how to continue with coronavirus precautions.

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