Orange County students, families excited but cautious after day 1 of face-to-face learning

Aug. 21 marks first day of in-person learning for OCPS students

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Josephine Edwards dropped off her grandchildren at Rosemont Elementary School on Friday for the first day of face-to-face learning.

This is the first time they’ve been back since the coronavirus pandemic began in March and despite new safety rules, Edwards said she is still concerned.

“People are still getting sick and I’m kind of scared to send them but I have no other choice,”

Her grandchildren were ready with their masks to start their big day. Her grandson Bentley is in Kindergarten and her granddaughter Jayda, is in 4th grade.

“I’m really excited,” Jayda said.

The district laid out rules for parents ahead of the reopening schools, reminding them to stay in their cars during pick up and drop off.

Parents are also not allowed to walk their children to the classroom.

Rafael Rodriguez dropped off his two daughters at Edgewater High School on Friday and explained he’s concerned too.

However, he wanted to send his daughters back to class since virtual learning was a bit challenging at home.

“They got to get to school. You just got to be careful. You got to drink your vitamins you got to protect yourself and social distance. The kids need to be in school,” Rodriguez said.

News 6 followed up with parents and students at Rosemont Elementary after the first day of school ended.

First grader Layla Mckenzie said she is happy to be back with her friends again.

“It’s mostly being with your friends and making new friends,” she said.

Her father, KD, said he’s happy his daughter is excited to be back, but he’s also cautious with some of the new safety measures in place.

“Everything else we’ll see how that plays out. With these masks and stuff, we’ll talk to her and see how she feels,” he said.

When asked how it felt to be back in the classroom, fifth grader Hudson Tucker had this to say: “At least I’m back in school and I don’t have to be crammed at home all day.”

Tucker is among 30% of Orange County students who opted for face-to-face learning. He said the first day of school came with a lot of changes.

“It’s kind of different because there is only one person per seat on the bus,” he said.

Tucker said social distancing was reinforced throughout the day.

“Recess is a lot different because you have to be spread apart and you can’t do as much stuff as you would,” Tucker said.

Kardawn Abdullah is a kindergarten teacher with Orange County public schools and said she was pleased following a whirlwind of changes and planning ahead of reopening.

“I was kind of nervous but everything ran smoothly. I took pictures and shared them with my students’ parents on Dojo, all the parents were very happy I did that, because it was like I brought them along,” Abdullah said.

Orange County Public Schools posted pictures on Twitter giving us a glimpse of what in person learning looks like during the pandemic.

Olympia High School tweeted a photo of students in a classroom sitting at desks spaced several feet apart. Wetherbee Elementary tweeted a picture of a classroom showing students learning while they are social distancing.

School board member Melissa Byrd tweeted a photo of the cafeteria at Maxey Elementary during lunch time showing students spaced apart and all facing the same direction.

All Orange County Public School students started the 2020-2021 year off online but about 40% or more choose in-person learning. Friday marked the first day of on-campus education for the school district.

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