ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County Public Schools announced Wednesday that the district will no longer be able to provide excused absences if parents keep their child home due to concern of COVID-19 cases.
The latest policy update starts on Monday as school leaders report the number of COVID-19 cases has declined.
District officials said they will continue to require adults to wear masks on campus and strongly encourage students to wear a face covering.
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“It is also an additional strain on our teachers as they continue to manage assignments for large numbers of absent students. Additionally, the State has not extended the quarantined code to be used in accommodation of absences in our attendance records, so students should be considered truant for non-attendance. We simply must discontinue the provision,” the district said in a statement.
The district said any parent that wants to keep their child out of school can enroll them in Home School Education.
For more information on Home School Education through OCPS School Choice can click this link.
A student who is showing any symptom of COVID-19 should stay home, the district reminded parents.
Superintendent Barbara Jenkins said the change affects absences where the student stayed home as a precaution and not a student who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Wendy Dormal, President of the Orange County Teacher Association, said parents and teachers alike are concerned about the change.
“Some of them just texted me because they got another notice from the district today telling them that. So, they have concerns. They are worried about them going into schools where they know there are high case numbers,” Dormal said.
In the message, Jenkins tells parents sick students should still stay home.
Dormal said students and teachers need to take precautionary measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the classroom.
“There’s no social distancing because there are so many kids there, so that’s a disadvantage. So everything we can do, we have to do,” Dormal said. “As a parent, you want to protect your child and keep them home. You know, that’s an option for them. They can do homeschooling, whatever they have to do to keep their kids safe.”