MARION COUNTY, Fla. – With a unanimous vote by the Marion County School Board, the school district will move forward with reopening schools for the fall semester on Aug. 10.
As part of the reopening plan, students won't be required to wear face coverings unless they are in a situation where they can't socially distance, like on a school bus. Marion County school buses will have hand sanitizing stations and extra masks for students who show up without one.
Click HERE to learn more about the reopening plan for Marion County schools and to sign your student up for the fall semester.
While face coverings aren’t required for students, members of the reopening task force said face shields will be available for all students and will be used for certain situations where they can’t socially distance at school.
"When I put the face shield on, I can still function within a classroom. If I need to go to a small group setting and get some reading assistance at an elementary level, I can do that. It covers my nose, eyes and mouth versus a desk shield where I can stand above it," said a member of the reopening task force during Tuesday's presentation.
Students will have two options for the fall: They can go traditional and attend school in-person with new health and safety guidelines or they can continue their education online.
Through the online program, students will be enrolled in their current school and will have to follow the same bell schedule as students who are in the classroom. Their classes will also be taught by teachers at their particular school. But students enrolled online will not be able to participate in any extra-curricular on-campus activities like athletics or clubs.
Any students who are participating in the online program will be provided a computer and WiFi hot spot arrangements will be made if they do not have the resources they need.
Gena Welch-Booher has been teaching in Marion County for 20 years. She said the rush to reopen is concerning.
“I am not protected from anything those students bring from home. I need to feel like I’m protected with PPE,” said Booher of personal protective equipment. “If the trends continue the way they are now, I’m concerned. If the numbers look like they did at the end of May, I’d be fine with it but they don’t.”
The school district said it is using CARES ACT funding to purchase 15 reusable masks for all teachers and staff. They will also provide additional PPE for staff and students.
Parents will have until July 15 to make a decision on how their children will learn come fall. If parents don’t make a decision by the deadline, their kids will automatically be enrolled in the traditional learning method at their assigned school.