ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – One Freedom High School English teacher says he is already in fear to go back into the classroom next month as coronavirus cases continue to rise but he also worries about what protections will be in place to keep him and his students safe.
"It's wishful for the district to think that they can make this work," said teacher Nick Anderson. "Every work site has teachers that can tell you about the frustration about trying to keep the soap dispensers filled on a daily basis, going days without even having paper towels refilled."
Anderson is also a representative of the Orange County's Classroom Teachers Association and fears about the reopening and what it would look like.
“If we can’t win that battle, think need to start looking more about what am I going to do if I get sick,” he said. “I don’t want to go to anyone’s funeral. It’s just not what I want to see and not what I want to think about for my students for that matter.”
Anderson says as an English teacher for seniors in high school, he usually has about 30 kids in a classroom.
"If they give me sanitizer, what happens when 30 kids use the hand sanitizer for one period? And I've got 6 periods a day. How often can I count on that there will more sanitizer there?" he asked.
According to Orange County school officials, the county needs approximately $1.1 million dollars for PPE supplies and plans on using their own reserves to pay for it. School officials say they will apply to get 75% of those funds reimbursed by FEMA and 12.5% of it reimbursed by the state.
"The district might say we will provide but what they provide may be so little or so weak that yes essentially I will have to buy my own supplies," Anderson added.
According to the Florida Department of Education, the state will distribute $696,223,066 dollars of Federal CARES Act money to the school districts and they must apply for it. A presentation on the DOE’s website shows there are 12 categories districts can use those funds for from training and professional development to PPE supplies and cleaning and disinfecting.
Orange County Public Schools expects to get $48.7 million dollars from those funds and as of now they plan on breaking that down to buy more laptops for students, for intervention for students who have regressed and to reserve money the district plans on losing due to the pandemic.
News 6 reached out to other school districts in Central Florida to see how they plan to purchase PPE supplies and what they plan on using the CARES Act money for. See their responses below:
VOLUSIA COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
“We are not using our Cares act money to purchase PPE. We are submitting them to FEMA for 87.5% reimbursement.”
SEMINOLE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
“We are getting some CARES ACT Money and Seminole County government has some as well that they’re willing to assist if the district has any needs to support our students. I’m unable to provide any #‘s as of yet or a staff person to be interviewed however by the deadline due to to several on-going staff virtual meetings that are scheduled.”
SUMTER COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
· The disruption in educational services caused by COVID-19 created a delay in identifying students with disabilities. School Psychologist contract days will be expanded to allow additional opportunities to complete required evaluations and assessments.
· Students identified with learning gaps resulting from disruption in educational services caused by COVID-19 will be provided extended learning opportunities through after school programming focusing on reading, math and science. The after school programming will be available for students a minimum of forty-five hours. Evidence based instructional tools such as iReady, Renaissance, Common Lit, Algebra Nation, Geometry Nation, and Study Island will be utilized to design instruction. Programs will include transportation.
· Mental health services and support will be expanded through increased access to Potential counselors at each middle and high school in the district. Potentials Youth Based Intervention Services is a contracted diversion program for at-risk students. Counselors provide services to students during the school day for individual and/or group counseling, depending on the needs of the student. Student needs may include behavioral problem resolution, substance use education, academic issues, anger management and improving social skills. Potentials counselors address the needs of at risk students to build resiliency and reduce the onset of mental health or substance abuse issues. Contracted services for two additional potentials counselors.
· Mental health services and support will be expanded through contracted service professionals from Lifestream to support K-12 students. The children and adolescents of Children’s Clinical OnSite Services (CCOS) meet state criteria for services and display significant disruption in age-appropriate functioning. Evidenced-based therapeutic approaches, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, solution-focused brief therapy, play therapy, parent-child relationship therapy are provided, and as well as access to a psychiatrist for evaluation and medication treatment if needed.
· A student service position will be added to provide extra guidance for students.
· An additional eighty hours for the nurse supervisor for training on COVID awareness and response for bus drivers and school office staff; coordination, planning, and meeting with local Department of Health for COVID testing; research of PPE and other COVID avoidance materials and research and planning incorporate CDC/DOH best practices and information sharing of health and safety procedural for school re-openings.
· School Resource Officers are expanded to ensure they will be on site during summer and after school programs designed to address learning gaps due to COVID-19.
· Bus aides have been hired to assist drivers with social distancing and health safety while transporting students to summer programs designed to address learning gaps due to COVID-19.
· Increased sanitization measures will be implemented to control the spread of COVID-19 and ensure health safety of students and employees. Sanitation measures include increased access to hand sanitizer, hand washing stations, Rejuvenal spraying in classrooms, offices, cafeterias, media centers, buses, and shared PE equipment.
· Custodial staff contract hours have been expanded to ensure enhanced sanitation protocols are followed.
· An Assistant Custodial Chief has been hired to provide training and monitoring in the increased sanitization measures implemented to control the spread of COVID-19 and ensure health safety of students and employees.
· The district purchased 900 face shields.
· The district purchased additional Wi-Fi hotspots to ensure all students have internet access to aid in regular and substantive educational interaction between students and their classroom instructors.
· The district purchased a subscription to USATEST Prep to assess learning gaps resulting from disruption in educational services caused by COVID-19.
· An additional Teacher on Special Assignment for instructional Technology is being hired to assist with Develop Best Practices for Distance Learning manual and communication plan, and to assist teachers and students with best practices in the use of instructional technology.
· A new data clerk is being hired to support the expansion of virtual learning opportunities.
· The district is expanding opportunities for curriculum development which will utilize teacher leaders to develop curriculum maps and lesson plans for blended learning (distance and traditional) encompassing Florida B.E.S.T. Standards.