ORLANDO, Fla. – Members of the Florida Education Association said they are disappointed the task force for reopening schools, created by the governor and education commissioner, is made up of predominately business people and not educators themselves.
They say they hope the task force will consider their recommendations for reopening schools.
Highlights from the FEA’s recommendations include:
- Temporary suspension of standardized testing and school grades for the next school year.
- Suspension of emergency drills because the FEA said it will only disrupt student learning and lead to large gatherings.
- Improvements to digital learning platforms.
- Hybrid instruction including alternative calendars, staggered meal times and split schedules.
“Some students will go to school in a physical classroom, while other students are home. As far as busing, to adhere by CDC guidelines, it may mean buying more buses and hiring more bus drivers... As far as lunches go, we may have to bring food to the classrooms as it relates to students traveling throughout the school,” said FEA president, Fedrick Ingram.
Coronavirus testing was also a big issue that was brought up.
“We’re not only going to have to test adults, we’ll have to test teachers and every student. We even have to test visitors and people who make deliveries to the school," Ingram said. “That’s what the CDC is advocating and recommending, so we are going with science. Again, that will cost money but there should be no dollar amount to keeping people safe and healthy.”
Resuming in-person classes is something that the FEA said will require more resources and more money. The group is advocating for additional state and federal funding and pushing for the HEROES Act which, if passed, will provide more stimulus money.
Wendy Doromal, president of the Orange County Classroom Teachers Association, said this recommendation report was the best she's seen so far but said local teachers still have concerns.
“How can you social distance in a hallway or cafeteria? Our classrooms are overcrowded right now,” Doromal said. “We’ve heard from teachers who say they’re not going back if they’re made to go back. We want them to consider that if a person has a compromised immune system, that there’s accommodations for them and they can work from home.”
Doromal said the Orange County School District assured her that each student will have their own device come August.
To view the FEA’s recommendations for reopening schools click here.