SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Students in Seminole County became the first in the Central Florida 10-county region to return to the classroom on Monday, the first day of school for the district.
According to school district leaders, 44% of families chose face-to-face learning to begin the year, while 46% picked virtual learning and 10% opted for the county’s hybrid model.
At Pine Crest Elementary School on Monday, Superintendent Walt Griffin was joined by school board members for a historic bell ringing ceremony, which traditionally marks the beginning of the school year.
“Hands down, (it’s) the most unusual school year ever, but we’re prepared,” Griffin said.
Students were seen wearing masks as they arrived for class. District leaders said there are other safety measures in place, such as desk shields, social distancing markers and hand sanitizing stations.
"I think most important for children, keep those hands clean," Griffin said. "Keep sanitized. Clean the hard spots and do all the precautions that we have here."
Gilbert Hernandez chose in-person learning for his daughter who is in first grade and said he was satisfied with what the district has done to keep students healthy.
“They have it under control. They know what they’re doing,” Hernandez said. “I wouldn’t bring my daughter here if I thought it was not safe.”
For at least the first nine weeks, the district said class sizes have also been reduced and there is limited capacity on board school buses.
No matter which option families chose, Griffin said there will be many changes for students and he's asking for parents to be patient as everyone adjusts to the new school year.
“We have to work together as a community, as a Seminole County to keep everybody healthy,” he said.