VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – After a meeting that went into the early morning hours Wednesday, the Volusia County School Board voted to send its reopening plan to the state for approval.
The plan involves giving students and parents multiple options including face-to-face learning and “Volusia Live,” which will allow students to learn from home on a structured schedule.
The board also voted to delay the start of school until August 31 and debated options to possibly delay that further if cases of the coronavirus continue to spike in the county.
Local parents said it’s important the school district keeps options on the table.
”For me, it’s definitely essential for schools to open back up. When they closed in March, it was difficult being in the medical field working full time and then also having to teach my own children. It’s hard to see if they’re retaining things,” Amanda Seegobin said.
Seegobin is a mother of three and an essential worker in the medical field. She said online learning is not an option for her younger children.
She added they didn’t have a good experience distance learning last school year.
”We were just doing an assignment, then moving on... doing an assignment and moving on. She’s not retaining anything, same for my son. They need to be in that classroom setting,” Seegobin said.
As part of Volusia County’s public school’s reopening proposal:
- All students and staff will go through temperature checks before entering schools
- Desks and workstations will be spaced between three and six feet
- Rooms will be disinfected between each class
Cynthia Alvarado is an elementary school teacher and mother of two. She said the district needs to hold off on opening schools.
“There should be an official nurse on staff. We need to have the machine to clean every classroom, and I don’t think they’re prepared at all,” Alvarado said.
Alvarado said she’s leaning toward online learning for her kids. The proposal has two virtual options:
- Volusia Live allows students to stream their classes as they happen, while learning from home.
- Enhanced Volusia Online Learning allows students to work at their own pace using an online platform.
Alvarado said she feels uneasy planning to be back in the classroom to teach.
”It’s nerve racking. I just don’t think people understand that, as a teacher, you’re on the front line. We have to think about violence in schools, being prepared for that. Now, I’m putting my life in danger with this sickness,” Alvarado said. “I’m putting my family at risk as well. God forbid if I was to get sick, I have to think about it. Who’s going to provide for my kids?”
”For me, I like to plan and have a plan in place, I like to know what is going on and what adjustments I need to make if they’re not opening schools. We can’t be home all the time, we’re essential,” said Seegobin. “I understand it’s a difficult decision, but the bottom line is if you don’t want your kids going to school, don’t.”
During hours of public comment Tuesday, several teachers again expressed concerns about returning to classrooms and being at risk of contracting the virus. School board members are likely to revisit the scheduled start date in the coming weeks.