Meet the panelists: Here’s who answered your questions during News 6′s back-to-school town hall

Health experts, educators lend their knowledge to answer your questions

ORLANDO, Fla. – As parents and students get ready for the new school year, we are still in a global pandemic, which may be causing some uncertainty ahead of the return to the classroom.

In an effort to ease concerns and clear up any possible confusion, News 6 hosted a Back to School town hall on Tuesday, Aug. 3 at 7 p.m.

A panel of experts was on hand to answer any questions you may have about this year’s return to school.

[BACK TO SCHOOL: What questions do you have ahead of the upcoming semester? | CDC recommends masks in school | Florida governor responds to CDC recommendations]

You can read more about each panelist so you know what kind of information they were able to provide. You can use the form at the bottom of the story to submit your back-to-school questions.

Vanessa Skipper | Vice president of the Brevard Federation of Teachers

Vanessa Skipper (Courtesy)

Vanessa Skipper taught English and journalism at Cocoa High School for 11 years and taught for three years at Andrew Jackson Middle School before making the transition to the Brevard Federation of Teachers, where she currently serves as vice president. She earned her bachelor’s degree in advertising and public relations and a Master of Arts degree in English language arts education from the University of Central Florida and serves as the secondary director on the executive cabinet of the Florida Education Association. She was one of six finalists for Brevard Public Schools Teacher of the Year in 2015.

Shantala Boss | Licensed mental health counselor

Licensed Mental Health Counselor Shantala Boss (Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

Shantala Boss has more than 15 years of experience. She has worked as a guidance counselor and mental health counselor with Orange County Public Schools for the last 10 years. Boss received her bachelor’s in psychology from Liberty University in 2000 and her master’s in mental health counseling from Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2004. Boss became a licensed mental health counselor and registered play therapist in 2006. She is also a certified guidance counselor with Orange County Public Schools and a state-board qualified supervisor for mental health counselors.

Maria Vazquez | Orange County Public Schools deputy superintendent

Orange County Public Schools Deputy Superintendent Maria Vazquez (Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

Maria Vazquez has worked in education for more than 30 years. She has worked within Orange County Public School’s administration for more than 11 years. After beginning her career as an elementary school classroom teacher and resource teacher in reading and language arts, Vazquez served as an assistant principal and principal in OCPS. She served the district across multiple roles including area superintendent and chief academic officer before being promoted to deputy superintendent in 2018. She oversees the district’s academic planning and instruction for more than 202,000 students in 202 learning sites. Vazquez received a master’s degree in education in 1995 and a doctorate of education in 2010, both from the University of Central Florida.

Dr. Todd Husty | Medical director of Seminole County’s Emergency Medical Services

'Please listen to the science:' Seminole County medical director Dr. Todd Husty on COVID-19 vaccine

Dr. Todd Husty graduated from The University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1980. After interning at a hospital in Sunrise, he served at naval hospitals in Okinawa, Japan, and then Orlando for three years. Husty worked as an emergency medical doctor for 30 years. He has been the emergency medical director for the city of Maitland for 36 years and for Seminole County for 20 years, in which time he’s been promoted to the role of the county’s medical director. In addition to his work in Florida, Husty also opened four hospitals in Afghanistan, which he operated for about seven years.

Serita Beamon | Superintendent of Seminole County Public Schools

Seminole County Superintendent Serita Beamon (Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

Serita Beamon was appointed superintendent of Seminole County Public Schools (SCPS) on March 1, 2021, becoming the first woman superintendent, first African-American superintendent, and 11th superintendent overall for the district. She attended Stetson University and earned an undergraduate degree in political science. Beamon received her Juris Doctor, with honors, from Florida State College of Law, where she was awarded the Virgil Hawkins Fellowship of academic achievement. In 2004, she joined The Legal Services Department for SCPS. Since that time, her practice has been focused exclusively on the area of education law. Beamon and her husband Demetry have two sons together who also attend SCPS schools.

If you’d like to submit questions during the event, you can do so by leaving a comment at the bottom of this story. To do that, you’ll need to create a account by using the “Sign In” button in the upper-right corner of the homepage. From there, enter your information, create your account and sign in. You should then return to this story and be able to leave a comment.

[MORE COVERAGE: Click here for more back-to-school content]

For a county-by-county breakdown of what parents and students need to know ahead of the school year, click here.

About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.