Central Florida school districts respond to state plan to reopen schools in August

Schools say they will evaluate plans

Gov. Ron DeSantis revealed Thursday that Florida plans to reopen in-person learning at schools as soon as this August amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Ron DeSantis revealed Thursday that Florida plans to reopen in-person learning at schools as soon as this August amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Florida Department of Education has developed a phased plan to work toward reopening campuses across the state.

Florida, like other states that began reopening in recent weeks, has reported a recent uptick in coronavirus cases causing health officials to sound the alarm. On Thursday, Florida reported the largest increase in new cases since the virus was first detected in the state more than three months ago.

News 6 reached out to all 10 county school districts in the Central Florida region for their reaction to the state plan. Since most school districts received the plan Thursday they are still evaluating the report and expect to provide more details on what the 2020-2021 school year could look like for students soon.

The state’s more than 140-page reopening plan can be found here.

[RELATED COVERAGE: Already at-risk Florida students face greatest learning gaps due to coronavirus school closures]

Here’s how Central Florida school districts are responding to the plan:

Brevard County

News 6 spoke to Brevard Superintendent Mark Mullins after the governor’s announcement in Viera Thursday. Here’s what he had to say:

“There is certainly work to do. These guidelines will help our task force to pave the way to prepare us to open in August. Just like we were ready to launch distance learning in a short period of time, we will be ready to open our doors for our students and staff when we come back in August. We need to take time to dig into those [guidelines] and apply those to the feedback we’re already receiving from our community and we will have a sound plan moving forward to keep our kids and our staff safe.”

Flagler County

"Flagler Schools appreciates the guidance from the state as we prepare for the 2020-2021 school year.

Flagler Schools has formed a “Return to School” task force which has already been hard at work laying out a roadmap for reopening our school campuses in the fall.

The information we received from the Florida Department of Education regarding reopening schools will be added to the information our Task Force will use as they prepare recommendations for our superintendent and school board.

We have already begun a slow, phased-in method of reestablishing in-person programs at our facilities. We appreciate FLDOE’s guidance as the District continues its initiatives on returning students, faculty and staff safely to our campuses."

Lake County

“In Lake, we have started the discussion about our fall re-entry, with input from parents, students and employees. We are reading through the Florida Department of Education’s “Reopening Florida’s Schools and the CARES Act” document, and we will make our plans in alignment with the guidance provided by the state,” Communications Officer Sherri Owens said via email.

Orange County

A district spokesperson said the school board and district staff are studying the state’s plan and will provide further details as they become available.

Parents and Orange County School District families also received a Connect Orange message Thursday in response to the announcement.

Osceola County

“Superintendent Pace has been working with a Back-To-School Task Force on how to reopen schools in August,” a statement from Osceola County Schools read. “She will bring a recommended plan in front of the School Board on June 30 for Board approval. Specifics are not available at this time as we have been waiting for guidance from the state to finalize recommendations.”

Seminole County

Officials said they will likely be sending out further district-specific details sometime next week.

A message was sent to SCPS Thursday following the governor’s announcement.

Dear SCPS Families/Staff:

Today, the Governor announced that the Florida Department of Education has issued a Reopening Schools plan for the upcoming school year.

The school board and district staff are currently studying the plan and will provide further details as they become available.

• You can read the plan in its entirety here.

• If your family is considering virtual school options, learn more about Seminole County Virtual School by visiting www.SCVS.us

Volusia County

“We will certainly take the recommendations seriously and support the notion that there is no substitute for a teacher when it comes to improving learning. At this time, we are still reviewing options,” spokesperson Kelly Schulz said in an email.

As more school districts respond this story will be updated.