OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – As Florida continues to see a surge in coronavirus cases, Osceola County school leaders are working to welcome students back for the 2020-2021 academic year with adjusted learning options.
Osceola 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 come August.
The school district’s “Ready. Set. Start Smart” plan was submitted to and officially approved by the state on July 17, according to the Florida Department of Education.
.@Osceolaschools "Ready. Set. Start Smart!" Reopening Plan is approved! We’re eager to support #FLschooldistricts & know that they're creating innovative solutions so that students can safely return to school this fall. https://t.co/DT9MvAnHGg @richardcorcoran #reopenFLschools pic.twitter.com/r5EsOFWUFQ— Florida Department of Education (@EducationFL) July 17, 2020
Here’s what you need to know about the district’s back-to-school plan:
Start date: Aug. 24
The Osceola County School Board voted Tuesday night to delay the start of the school year from Aug. 10 to Aug. 24.
Click here to see how the school calendar has changed with the new school start date.
The district is allowing parents to choose from the following three learning options:
- Face-to-face instruction at school with health and safety precautions in place
- Digital learning with their assigned school with a traditional school day schedule
- Virtual learning for students to allow learning during non-traditional school hours
The district’s website shows in-depth plans for each option.
*NOTE: Traditional VPK and ESE VPK will only be offered face-to-face due to the state restricts digital to 25% of the program, according to the school district’s website.
Learning option deadline: July 15
Parents will need to decide which style of learning each of their children will be taking part in and notify the county of their decision by July 15.
Once parents have decided whether their student will be learning at school with face-to-face instruction, from home with the digital learning option or through Osceola Virtual School, they will need to fill out the correct form for their respective top choices and confirm their decision by signing up for their preferred learning style using the forms located on this page.
County officials have advised parents who do not know their child’s student ID number or have an incoming Kindergartner to enter a “0″ in the Student ID field of their learning style decision form.
*NOTE: Parents who choose to send their student back to school for face-to-face instruction and would like to have them take the bus to and/or from school will need to make note of that on their learning style sign-up form.
If parents would like to make a change to their child’s learning style after the school year begins, they will need to communicate that request to the school’s administration as soon as possible, as it will take one week’s notice to make the change, according to the school district.
Enhanced coronavirus-related health and safety measures
If parents opt for in-person learning, students will have to follow increased health and safety protocols to help mitigate the spread of coronavirus. Below are a few topics of which parents should be aware:
The county’s back-to-school protocol for face-to-face instruction will rely heavily on face coverings for both students and staff, according to district officials.
Each student and staff member will be issued five prepackaged cloth washable masks when they return to school but the county will allow students to wear any mask as long as it’s not distracting. Face shields are also acceptable.
The district announced students will be required to wear face coverings at all times while in the classrooms.
*NOTE: Accommodations for face covering protocols can be made for students based on their individual health needs. Click here to learn more.
In addition to wearing masks, all students on campus will need to practice social distancing, particularly when going to and from class. Inside the classrooms, desks will be spaced out so there is four feet between each one.
Movement on campus
In order to maintain social distance and limit contact on campus, there will be changes to how students get from one place to another on campus and how often they change classes.
According to the school district, students in VPK through fifth grade will remain with their classmates all day, with special area teachers traveling to them when possible. Middle and high school students will follow one-directional signs in hallways and on stairways.
District officials are asking parents to do their part to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus by regularly doing temperature checks on their children and screening them for other COVID-19 symptoms before they leave for school.
Anyone who has been in direct contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or is exhibiting any of the following symptoms should stay home from school, county officials said in a back-to-school video:
- fever of 100.4 degrees or higher
- shortness of breath
- loss of taste and smell
If a student has to stay home for an extended period of time, their school will work with them so they’re able to participate in assignments using take-home packets or virtual learning.
The county has implemented a comprehensive school cleaning and sanitizing plan that will be followed by custodial teams throughout the district. The full plan can be found here.
Fall sports plan
The start of football has been pushed back for public schools in Osceola County, with the first practice now scheduled for the week of September 7.
“The delay in our athletic schedules for fall sports will allow schools to safely open, and still allow our student-athletes and coaches to complete their seasons with safety precautions in place as conditions allow,” Osceola School District Superintendent Dr. Debra Pace said.
Here’s the new fall sports calendar for public schools in Osceola County.
Details about what plans are in place should a student, teacher or other staff member at your child’s school test positive for COVID-19, as well as a full list of other important information parents should make note of before school resumes can be found on the school district’s list of frequently asked questions.
The Osceola County School District announced the fall sports schedule.
The first day of practice for football will be the week of Sept. 7 and the first game will be on the week of Sept. 21.
Runners in Cross Country will begin practice the week of Aug. 24 and will have their first race on the week of Sept. 7.
Golfers will hit the greens the week of Aug. 24 and will have their first contest on the week of Sept. 7.
Swimmers return to the pool the week of Aug. 24 and their first race will be on the week of Sept. 7.
The first practice for volleyball will be on the week of Sept. 7 and the first game for the athletes will be on the week of Sept. 21.
Bowlers return to the lanes on the week of Aug. 24 and will have a match on the week of Sept. 7.
Students return to class on Aug. 24.