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New Sanford elementary school opens during COVID-19 pandemic

Half of students returning for face-to-face learning

SANFORD, Fla. – As Seminole County students prepare for the start of the next school year on Monday, students of Pine Crest Elementary School of Innovation are getting ready to return to school at their new state-of-the-art facility.

Parents picked up their students’ devices Friday, the last day of summer vacation. Many took the opportunity to see the new school for the first time.

The school’s principal, Alex Agosto, said the $23 million project was five years in the making, from planning, designing to construction and moving in last week.

“We know that we have some challenges we are facing, but we’re really excited with what’s yet to come,” Agosto said.

Pine Crest Elementary School of Innovation.
Pine Crest Elementary School of Innovation.

There are changes to the school because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Inside the administration office, there is plexiglass at the front desk. The building also features 44 classrooms, with collaborative spaces in the hallways. There is extra seating in the media center, as well as an interactive board and a maker space with 3D printers.

But Agosto said because of the pandemic, those space aren’t being used yet.

“At some point, we want to provide our students the independence of utilizing all of the technology and equipment and resources that they have on hand. Of course, with everything we need to consider, we need to be mindful and cautious as to when we do that,” he said.

Agosto said almost 300 students are returning for face-to-face instruction. He added that teachers are getting creative with their spaces and how they are spreading their students out in the classroom.

Pine Crest Elementary School of Innovation.
Pine Crest Elementary School of Innovation.

He said they're also making sure to maintain distance in the cafeteria.

"It is basically double the size than our previous dining area," he said.

Students will sit at every other seat and they all face the same direction. He said they won't reach full capacity in the dining area.

Agosto said opening a new school during the pandemic has had its challenges, but he said he can’t wait to welcome back the students.

Pine Crest Elementary School of Innovation.
Pine Crest Elementary School of Innovation.

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