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Preparing for back to school in Collier County

The new start date for public schools in Collier County is Aug. 31. Sixty percent of students are heading back to the classroom and the district said it needs more time to prepare.

Distance learning didn’t go well for Naples mom Amy Hickey. “It was awful,” she said.

“They weren’t in school mode. They were ‘I’m home, it’s just another day off, I wanna go play at the pool, I wanna go play video games.'”

Add in Hickey’s demanding work schedule and she’s ready to get her kids back in the classroom.

“I can make a couple extra weeks work if, you know, that’s what it’s gonna take to get my children in school,” she said of the delayed start.

After school survey results showed 60% of kids will do in-person schooling, the district said it needs more time to get ready to bring them back.

“Getting the computers back in, ready to go, getting the masks in and distributed, getting our teachers trained on the safety protocols and new cleaning protocols, those sorts of things. The goal here is not to just reopen it’s to stay open,” said Jen Mitchell, school board member.

Also critical to staying open, according to the school board, is masks, which is something parents have challenged.

“Having my little child put a mask on and keep it on all day…wouldn’t happen,” said mom Jana Greer.

The district isn’t budging, saying masks protect the health of students and staff.

“For those students and families that don’t feel comfortable at the beginning of the year with their child wearing a face-covering, there are other options provided,” said Chad Oliver, director of communications with the school district.

The district has said that face masks could be phased out if virus case numbers improve in the county.

“I’ll just keep crossing my fingers that it’s not gonna be forever,” Hickey said.

For parents who chose school option number three, the E-Collier Academy, district officials said to watch your email inbox Wednesday for a note explaining more about the expectations.

Reporter:Rachel Cox-Rosen
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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