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Collier County schools return Aug 19; school district set to announce plan

Collier County Public Schools announced it has pushed back the start date for the fall to Aug. 19.

Parents have four learning options for the upcoming school year in Collier County:

  • In-person class
  • Full-time structured virtual learning
  • Full-time flexible virtual learning
  • Home school

It’s a decision that’s weighing on the minds of many.

Now, the later start will allow the school district to distribute masks and safety glasses. It will also allow the district to give out laptops and plan for its food distribution schedule.

Collier County School Board said it wants to do everything to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

But one teacher is worried about the proposed plan.

“I’m very disappointed,” said Julie Abalos, and eighth-grade teacher.

Abalos is not convinced the plan set for the return to school is a good one.

“No one sat down and thought out what a day would look like,” Abalos said. “I think what bothered me the most was when I went to school, and they were putting chairs in my room before the meeting had even started.”

The school board listed spacing out desks, wearing masks and goggles, having breakfast and lunch inside of the classrooms, one-way traffic in hallways and students having assigned supplies and instructional materials as some of the safety measures it wants to implement next school year.

“It would be very hard to control 17 kids and make sure they have their masks on at all times,” Jackie Cassis said. “In my opinion, everyone is still mingling together.”

Cassis has four children attending Collier County schools.

“I have considered it,” Cassis said. “I would not like to send my kids back to school.”

Victor Kulasenkov has children in Collier County schools too, and he thinks it’s time for his kids to return to class.

“I want them to go because I don’t think them sitting at home is a good idea,” Kulasenkov said. “If someone is sick, they can stay home.”

Kulasenkov is also critical of some of the safety measures that students must adhere to.

“What’s the point, sitting all day with those goggles and masks and all that stuff?” Kulasenkov said.

And parents like Cassis who don’t want to send their kids back to in-person class yet say the other options add obstacles to the daily routine.

“If parents do have to get back to work, that’s where it becomes difficult,” Cassis said.

Parents and teachers both question if having kids back in school is worth the risk.

“I’ve always told my children, all 35 heard safety first,” Abalos said. “If a shoe was untied or they are doing something they shouldn’t, I would always use that statement. I feel like can’t say safety first anymore because someone decided for me.”

The teachers’ start date will remain Aug. 5. And the last day for the school year should not be affected by this calendar change. The school board will finalize its reopening plans Wednesday afternoon.

Reporter:Taylor Smith
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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