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Task force recommends safety measures to reopen Lee County schools

We got a first look at what next year could look like for students in Lee County.

The School District of Lee County’s reopening task force shared recommendations for next school year during its meeting Wednesday. That included schedule changes and what precautions schools could take.

A recent survey conducted by the district shows many students want to get back into the classrooms. Some are concerned and want safety measures in place. Others say they’re not concerned about walking back on campus.

The district is trying to find the balance of listening to its students and protecting them. Proposals for next school year range from resuming in-person classes to continuing distance learning. Multiple hybrid options include both.

“Some students would be in the class receiving that face-to-face instruction, while other students are at home logged on,” said Dr. Jeff Spiro, chief academic officer. “The teacher is sharing their screen with the students.”

Credit: via WINK News.

Some options mean students would be in class one day and home the next. Parents who don’t feel comfortable sending their kids back could also continue distance learning.

“We have immune-compromised family members,” said Lloyd Duhon, who has three children in Lee County schools. “My step-daughter, my spouse and even myself to an extent. I have an issue with a collapsed lung that could cause some problems as well.”

Duhon plans to keep his kids home but says he appreciates the plan to keep students safe. That included safety measures such as health screenings, social distancing and keeping students in one classroom and rotating teachers in and out to limit their interactions.

“This community seems to have come together,” Duhon said. “And we’ve been very cohesive in trying to get the best answer that accommodates as many people as they can.”

But hybrid options aren’t realistic for some parents who rely on school and the after-school programs.

“I used to be a single mom a long time ago with my other child,” said Jennifer Emmett, who has one child in a Lee County school. “And some of us don’t have a choice. And so that kind of on again, off again, I don’t know. That’s going to affect a lot of people in a very negative way.”

In addition to following safety guidelines from the CDC, the district is also trying to figure out what to do about school buses.

If they follow social distancing guidelines and maintain six feet of separation, that would mean a bus that normally holds 77 students would only hold nine total.

Emmett doesn’t want her kids to miss out on the in-person experience.

“It’s going to be her senior year,” Emmett said. “She needs to be at school. I mean, these kids need to have that experience. I feel terrible for these kids this year that didn’t get it.”

DOWNLOAD (pdf): Reopening Florida’s Schools and the CARES Act

Click to access FLDOEReopeningCARESAct.pdf

Reporter:Justin Kase
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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