MARION COUNTY, Fla. – For the second nine weeks of school, Marion County Public Schools implemented a new policy, if a student has less than a ‘C’ in a core class on MCPSOnline or have attendance issues, they are required to return to brick-and-mortar schools.
At the start of the second nine weeks of school 2,000 students decided to return to Marion County brick-and-mortar schools, according to the district.
An additional 1,700 students using MCPSOnline were forced back into to the classroom due to academic or attendance concerns. The district said another 1,100 students are on academic contracts due to low performance on MCPSOnline.
“We worked with the student and their families to create a contract. They have outlined expectations with attendance and performance in classes to say ‘you have this nine-weeks to work this out and if not, move to some of the other models,’” said Superintendent Dr. Diane Gullett.
With thousands of students returning to the classroom, school board members said there are some challenges.
“The challenges are just trying to figure out scheduling and staying within classroom size limits and still trying to do some social distancing. If not, making sure they have a mask or face shield on,” said Marion County Public Schools Chairman Eric Cummings.
With some of the schools already exceeding 90% capacity, board members discussed some options during the board meeting Thursday. One option mentioned was combining online classes to free up teachers. They are also considering hybrid classes where teachers are teaching students in the classroom and online at the same time.
“If we are going to do that model, we need to make sure the people in the hybrid formats are able to properly facilitate instruction. That they are equipped with the things they need to bring about that type of instruction because it’s difficult to teach live and virtually at the same time,” said Cummings.
With more than 9,000 students still learning through MCPSOnline, the district hopes the state will allow them to keep that option for the remainder of the school year.
School board members said they are expecting some guidance from the Florida Department of Education this month on how they will move forward for the rest of the school year.