MARION COUNTY, Fla. – During a work session Thursday, the Marion County School Board said schools are having a difficult time finalizing schedules because parents can’t make up their mind about how their children will be learning this school year.
The board set a hard deadline. Parents have to make a decision by 10 a.m. Friday on whether their children will be enrolled in traditional or online learning.
After that, their choices are locked in for two weeks into the school year before making any changes.
Classrooms are set up, PPE and hand sanitizer have been delivered and cameras are in place for online learning but schedules for Marion County schools are constantly changing.
“The parents, some of them have called and said, ‘My student’s coming face-to-face...’ then they’ve called back the next day saying, ‘I changed my mind, we’re going online.’ We’ve had a lot of that, but we’re just trying to be patient. We understand parents need to make the decision that’s best for their families,” said Emerald Shores Elementary School Principal Stacy Houston.
While teachers are prepped and ready for the first day of school, some parents are still getting their children ready.
“We are trying to be (ready.) We’re doing online because we think it’s safer for the kids right now,” Lalyssia Holiday said.
Teachers said they are doing their best to reach out to parents and answer questions about what school will look like, whether it be traditional or online, to help them make a decision.
Fifth grade online teacher Estela Melendez said she’s even made daily schedules and put together student bags with some information and supplies.
“I know as a parent it’s hard to decide. What I’ve done is just make bags for my students and make extras. Today, I had two kids sign up for the online class,” Melendez said.
All in all, these teachers are staying positive, excited to see their students after the extended time apart.
The school district said after 10 a.m. Monday, students will be locked into their decisions for two weeks before they can make any changes.
News 6 also reached out to the Marion County school district to get an update on teacher vacancies. They said there’s about 44 openings right now, and emphasized the number of openings is not unusual for the school district heading into the new school year.