Orange County parents invited to participate in school reopening survey

Phone survey taking place Tuesday evening

Orange County parents will receive a phone call Tuesday evening with a survey asking them how they feel about local schools reopening.

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County parents will receive a phone call Tuesday evening with a survey asking them how they feel about local schools reopening.

Campuses across the county and state have been shuttered for months, moving students of all ages to distance learning in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus.

[RELATED: What will the return to schools look like this fall?]

As this academic year nears its end, many are wondering whether students will return to classrooms come fall.

Orange County Public Schools’ one-question survey will ask parents how they feel about that possibility. They’ll be asked to choose one of four options:

  • You are unsure at this time
  • You prefer your child return to traditional face-to-face school with health and safety rules in place
  • You prefer your child resume distance learning
  • You prefer your child have a blended approach of traditional face-to-face school and distance learning

No official word has been given on what learning will look like in August but education leaders have been discussing options, including extending digital learning, staggering learning days and even possibly adding Saturdays to the mix.

News 6 contacted school districts across Central Florida to find out whether they plan to conduct surveys. Their unedited responses are below. This story will be updated as more replies are received.

Brevard County

"To learn what families are experiencing during school closures, BPS sent a survey link to more than 70,000 public-school households by text message and email. More than 11,300 answered the survey, which asked parents about online lessons, communication with teachers, and their level of comfort with reopening schools in the fall.

What Brevard County parents and guardians say:

The sudden switch to online learning has been hard. The largest share of parents (40 percent) say the time and effort required for remote instruction ‘was hard to manage at first, but we’re used to it now.’ However, more than one-third (35 percent) say ‘it is still hard to manage.’

Brevard teachers are communicating with students. More than 80 percent of survey respondents say their kids communicate by phone or email with their teachers at least once per week.

Flexibility with instruction time is key. Nearly one-third of parents share a computer needed for remote work with a student who needs the same device for instruction.

No consensus among parents about whether public schools should reopen on schedule in August. The largest portion (38 percent) say they are “unsure – it is too soon to determine.”

The survey results were shared with BPS decision-makers including Superintendent Mark Mullins and the Brevard County School Board."

Marion County

“Marion County Public Schools is also working on plans for the next school year. We will survey parents and include that feedback into final decisions.”

Osceola County

“Superintendent Debra Pace will be convening a Back-To-School Task Force made up of school and community stakeholders, including medical professionals, parents, administrators, and teachers, to bring forward recommendations for what school will look like in the fall, which may include multiple scenarios depending on what science and data are telling us at that time about student and staff safety. The Task Force has not had their first meeting as of yet, so no decisions have been made yet about a parent survey.”

Seminole County

A survey is posted on the school district's homepage, gauging parents' interest in Seminole County's Virtual School, which has been set up long before the pandemic.

"That might be something our families are considering now more than they ever did before," spokesperson Michael Lawrence said.

The district's Virtual School is different from distance learning, in that it has its own teachers and principal, but allows for students to seamlessly transition between traditional classes and virtual classes.

Lawrence told News 6 that depending on interest, traditional teachers may be moved to the virtual school.

“Some of them have been really excelling at that and there might be a scenario as we play out going into the fall where we may need to utilize some of those teachers on the virtual side of things to where they are working remotely from home and doing the virtual classes because we need more capacity to handle the load of students interested," he said.

Sumter County

“We are in the process of planning as if we are opening in the fall for face to face instruction. Of course, that decision will be made by the Governor and we will follow his directions/executive orders. We have not (surveyed) our parents on the present or future of distance learning. Our teachers and administrators are in contact with the students and parents on a fairly regular basis.”

Volusia County

“We have a survey on our website now. It goes through Thursday at 11:45 p.m. The first question is... Would you feel comfortable sending your student back to school for the 2020-2021 school year? We are also looking at sending a robocall to our families in the next few weeks.”

About the Authors:

It has been an absolute pleasure for Clay LePard living and working in Orlando since he joined News 6 in July 2017. Previously, Clay worked at WNEP TV in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he brought viewers along to witness everything from unprecedented access to the Tobyhanna Army Depot to an interview with convicted double-murderer Hugo Selenski.