Teaching in a pandemic, Orlando school hosts special COVID-19 training for new teachers

Principal wants new staff trained long before start of school year

Teachers at Bridgeprep Academy K-8 Charter School undergo COVID-19 safety training long before start of school year.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Joy Gordon Fernandez is the principal at Bridgeprep Academy K-8 Charter School in Orlando.

She has nearly 300 students coming back for face-to-face learning this school year and because the world is still dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, she decided to do something different for her new teachers starting this year.

“Our teachers have to understand the safety protocols that we have in place,” Fernandez said.

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Usually, Orange County teachers will begin their pre-planning a week before the first day of school, but Dr. Fernandez wanted to train her new teachers way before then.

She wanted to highlight all the safety measures when it comes to COVID-19 since some weren’t here last year.

The training also included classroom preparations for the 2021-2022 school year.

“The recognition is that there is so much, maybe, anxiety and trauma that a lot of adults encountered during this period of COVID that it’s good for us to be able to have our teachers come in early,” Fernandez explained.

Caleb Sommer is one of ten new teachers at Bridgeprep Academy. He moved from Ohio to Central Florida this summer.

Sommer said he’s not nervous for his first year of teaching and he’s already learned a lot from his training.

“When COVID started, it was my junior year of college and now that it’s my first year of being out in the world and teaching, it’s still happening. I do feel safe. I’m vaccinated, I feel like there’s enough precautions going on within the school,” Sommer said.

The school will still be conducting temperature checks and will continue sanitizing classrooms. Water fountains are also off limits to students and staff to avoid spreading the virus.

“I’m looking forward to, hopefully, COVID ending in my first year of teaching and not going into the second year. I’m looking forward to meeting the students and knowing who they are because a teacher doesn’t just stop when the lesson ends,” Sommer said.

The first day of school is Aug. 10.

About the Author:

Ezzy Castro is a multimedia journalist on News 6's morning team who has a passion for telling the stories of the people in the Central Florida community. Ezzy worked at WFOR CBS4 in South Florida and KBMT in Beaumont, Texas, where she covered Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Being from Miami, Ezzy loves Cuban coffee and croquetas!