Everything you need to know about Orange County’s back-to-school plan

Students have 3 learning options for upcoming school year

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

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – As Florida continues to report thousands of new coronavirus cases, Orange County school leaders are finalizing the district’s plans to welcome students back for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Orange County Public Schools has been working on details to reopen for in-person learning after the Florida Department of Education issued an executive order telling schools to physically reopen in August.


Here’s what you need to know about the district’s back-to-school plan:

Start date: August 10.

The Orange County School Board voted to move the school start date to August 21 for students returning to campus for face-to-face instruction.

[RELATED: School will start virtually for all Orange County students on Aug. 10]

All students will begin class virtually on Aug. 10.

The move came a day after a marathon session about the impacts of COVID-19 for students, parents and teachers.

Learning options

The district has provided three options from which parents can choose:

1. Face-to-face learning: Traditional in-school learning with enhanced health and safety protocols for students. Students will follow a regular school day schedule with teachers utilizing personal protective equipment.

2. Orange County Virtual School: At-home online courses on your family’s schedule. Families will establish their own daily learning schedule. Families will also have optional face-to-face student workdays about two days a month at the Orange County Virtual School campus for students who are on pace in their coursework.

3. Innovate learning option: The innovative model provides the opportunity for students to continue to learn at home while remaining registered at their enrolled school. This option is designed for families who don’t feel comfortable sending their children back to school but ultimately plan to rejoin their enrolled school in the future. Based on the number of families who select this option, students will be placed in classes where all students are learning from home or a portion of the class is learning from home. In both cases, all students will follow the standard school schedule and bell times.

The district has outlined more details regarding each option and suggestions on what type of student may be best suited for each one. For more information on the proposed learning options, click here.

Learning option deadline: July 24

Parents have to pick an option by July 24 and can make their selection at this link.

Enhanced coronavirus-related health and safety measures

If parents opt for any in-person learning options, students will have to follow increased health and safety protocols to help mitigate the spread of coronavirus. Below are few topics parents should be aware of.

Face coverings

Teachers, faculty and staff: All OCPS employees working with students will wear face masks or other appropriate personal protective equipment.

Students: If a student opts for face-to-face learning they will be required to wear a face covering.

*Accommodations for face covering protocols can be made for students/staff based on their individual health needs.

Classroom sanitization

• Hand sanitizer stations will be available in each classroom.

• Arrange desks or seating so that students are as physically distanced as possible with workstations 3 to 6 feet apart when feasible.

• Class sizes will align with state student-to-teacher ratios.

• Nonessential furniture will be removed from the classroom.

• Supply soap, hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, cleaning and disinfection supplies for staff, paper towels, and tissue.

• Reinforce handwashing with soap for 20 seconds and/or hand sanitizer use.

• Schedule more frequent cleaning of high touch/high-traffic areas

Traveling to and from school

  • When possible, parents are asked to transport their child to and from school in a personal vehicle to limit the potential for virus exposure and reduce the number of students on OCPS buses.
  • On buses, students will be required to wear a mask (accommodations for face covering protocols can be made based on individual health needs).
  • Bus windows will be open to promote good ventilation.
  • Students will load the bus filling rear rows first and unload from the front rows to the rear to maintain social distancing.
  • Buses will be cleaned twice daily.

*These protocols will be updated when the district releases its formal reopening plans.

The district is asking parents to submit their questions to questions@ocps.net regarding the reopening of schools. They’ve posted a list of frequently asked questions and answers here.

Fall Sports Plan

Orange County Schools said fall sports and marching band practices are postponed until further notice.

The district said school officials are currently working on a plan to modify schedules to make sure the environment is safe for students.

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