Superintendent explains why Orange County changed fall plan

The announcement caught some parents off guard

Orange County superintendent explains change in start date
Orange County superintendent explains change in start date

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County Public Schools said virtual learning will be provided to all students starting Aug. 10. This includes students who are registered for face-to-face learning and LaunchEd@Home.

The announcement caught some parents off guard.

At the last board meeting, the district had recommended a start date of Aug. 21.

Superintendent Dr. Barbara Jenkins tells News 6, a question was posed by a school board member, that prompted the district to inquire about starting virtually.

Dr. Jenkins said the board member asked if they would still be meeting the Emergency Order requirements, if they were to start school virtually and then, as long as it’s within the month of August, open the schools for face-to-face learning after.

Dr. Jenkins said she and the school board members spoke briefly last week on this, and then she said she took it to the Department of Education, who responded Monday morning.

“From the end of last week to yesterday morning, there was some discussion with the state, and the superintendent got the good word that they would allow us to, to make this approach,” Vice-Chair of the Orange County School Board, Pam Gould said.

Gould said they work with the state on a lot of different issues, and said some decisions see a quick turnaround, while some do not.

This one, she said happened quickly.

Dr. Jenkins said this approach will be beneficial in two ways.

She said it gets teachers paid on time without any delay, and said it also provides practice time for everyone to be exposed to the LaunchEd@Home platform.

This, she said, allows the schools to pivot to this learning option as their default if a COVID-19 case arises in a school, and they need to.

Dr. Jenkins also said, for parents who may have made other plans with work or child care, and are worried they may not be available until August 21st, there’s no penalty if students are not in attendance those nine days.

She tells News 6 there is no truancy or absentee issue. Adding that a student is not tracked as absent until they have begun school and attended their first day, whether that’s online, or via face-to-face.

About the Author:

Lauren Cervantes was born and raised in the Midwest but calls Florida her second home. She joined News 6 in August 2019 as a reporter.