Orange County parents conflicted about schools reopening amid COVID-19 pandemic

Orange County schools did not have a graduation this year

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – As school districts across Central Florida develop reopening plans some Orange County public school parents said they are conflicted with in-person classes resuming in August.

Amanda Kern said she wants a safe reopening plan, but is not sure what that looks like for her sons amid a pandemic with a recent spike in cases.

“The question is whether putting him at risk of getting COVID or whether giving him the experience of going to school and being back with his peers is more important,” Kern said.

On Monday, the state issued an emergency executive order that schools must open in the fall for at least five days a week. With the uncertainty of COVID-19, the district is challenged with creating a plan that ensures safety for teachers and students, like her son.

“My youngest one who has special needs will not wear a mask for more than 30 minutes so I don’t know how it’s going to be sending them back to a physical school,” she said.

Orange County Public schools held a work session on Tuesday. School board members asked health officials with the Florida Department of Health for guidance and suggestions for a safe restart.

Kern said she knows difficult decisions have to be made.

“Right now it’s kind of a ‘we really don’t know what the heck they are going to do’. I would feel more comfortable with whatever option they choose, they tell me right away,” Kern said.

As the district plan comes together Kern said the district’s decision to cancel graduation was disheartening.

“It’s a little heartbreaking that they won’t hold formal graduations for these kids who just graduated from high school, it’s a huge milestone but they are willing to send kids back to school knowing that the numbers are increasingly rising.”

A vote on reopening plans for Orange County Schools is scheduled for July 14.

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