VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. — The Volusia County School Board voted Tuesday to push back the start of school to August 31 and approved a live-stream option of instructors teaching in a classroom to students at home.

The live-stream option, known as Volusia Live, must still be approved by state education officials.

What You Need To Know

Board members met for more than 7 hours to discuss and finalize back-to-school plans during the coronavirus pandemic, with many teachers and parents providing comments at the virtual meeting.

Volusia County elementary school teacher Amy Hawkins said she loved doing hands-on projects with her STEM students and misses being with them every day.

“But being immune-compromised, in a hands-on environment like I am, with contact with every student in the school, it’s really scary,” Hawkins said. 

Because of her autoimmune disorder, she said she fears going back to school could be deadly.

Volusia County schools has three options for parents to choose from in their reopening plan.

  • Traditional face-to-face teaching
  • Virtual distance learning in Enhanced Volusia Online Learning
  • A live stream of classroom teaching called Volusia Live, which is a hybrid

But Hawkins said she doesn’t see any openings to teach for Volusia Online Learning. 

“It’s not likely that there will be, under the current model, a way for me to not go back,” Hawkins said. 

And she’s not the only one.

Dozens of teachers and parents called in to the meeting to say why they didn’t feel safe returning.

Here are a couple examples:

  • “Do I send Ben to school and risk him catching it at school? I don’t want him to die.”
  • “If a family member of mine dies of COVID due to your decision, I will sue each of you by name, and I will be alive to do it.”

Recognizing the concerns of teachers and parents alike, Volusia County School Board members voted to delay the start of school to August 31, the latest date of any Central Florida school district to date and the last day possible under the state education commission’s mandate.

But Hawkins and others say they wish the board wouldn’t risk opening any brick-and-mortar classrooms until they can guarantee student and staff safety.

“I think that we should reopen schools when it’s safe to do so,” Hawkins said. 

Parents will have to pre-register for the option in which they want to enroll their child by July 28. Volusia officials said that time is required so the district can allocate the resources needed to each option. 

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