70% of students will return to classroom as Marion County schools prep for reopening

Extracurricular activities, sports to continue with restrictions

MARION COUNTY, Fla. – Even with parents going back and forth between traditional and online learning, the Marion County Public Schools said the split remains the same from July.

About 70% of students will be doing traditional learning while the other 30% will be doing online learning.

Emma Dingman is a Pre-K teacher at Emerald Shores Elementary School.

“Being able to learn how to regulate emotions and how to interact with other students appropriately is our main focus and you can’t do that online,” Dingman said.

Pre-K is only offered through traditional learning for Marion County Public Schools. Dingman said she has only eight students so they’ll be able to socially distance. Instead of eating in the cafeteria, her students are using lap boards that will be disinfected after each use.

“Usually the little ones love to hug and be close to you,” Dingman said.

That’s why she’s added more visuals in her classroom, like a poster promoting social distancing greetings like a foot bump or wave. She also has age appropriate books about germs and wearing a mask.

Last-minute preparations are being made at Emerald Shores Elementary for students heading back to the classroom.

“We’ve had our assistant principal going around painting blue marks so that students can see how far six feet is. Teachers are calling asking if we can see their room set up to make sure everything’s OK,” Principal Stacy Houston said.

Drinking fountains are covered and students will be getting their own water bottles. The cafeteria benches are labeled with dots so students remain spread out.

To keep low capacity in the cafeteria, they've created outdoor eating space with desks spaced six feet apart in covered areas.

For other children, learning will be different come Monday.

"I get to be home doing my school work," said fourth grader Kaileni Conprn.

Conprn's dad said he wanted to see how things went for the first few weeks.

“It was a tough decision. I figured it’d give it a couple weeks and see how things go with classes. If things are good, I’ll enroll her in in-person classes,” he said.

Teachers have their web cameras and schedules ready for online teaching. Keep in mind, extracurricular activities and sports are expected to continue when school starts with some restrictions.

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