ORLANDO, Fla. — The Orange County School Board on Friday afternoon passed a preliminary plan for reopening its schools that asks the state for a waiver to retract it if the local coronavirus pandemic situation makes returning to brick-and-mortar classrooms unsafe.
What You Need To Know
- Orange Public Schools OKs return-to-school plan, sends it to state
- Plan calls for waiver to retract it if COVID-19 conditions are unsafe
- It also calls for 1st day of school to move from August 10 to August 21
- RELATED: Orange County Schools Considers Home-Classroom Hybrid Option
It’s unclear whether state would grant that waiver.
The plan includes an option for students to study from home called the LaunchEd@Home model.
The school board wants to form an advisory board that will likely be the entity to decide whether it's safe to return to brick-and-mortar classrooms.
The district also wants to send a new survey to parents and guardians regarding the back-to-school plans to gauge what they think is appropriate and safe regarding the increase in COVID-19 cases in Central Florida.
If the state approves the plan, the first day of school will be pushed back from August 10 to August 21.
Some school board members have voiced frustration over the lack of guidance from the Florida Department of Health’s Dr. Raul Pino. Teachers are also frustrated with the entire situation.
Taylirre Mack is an Orange County parent and teacher. She thinks going back to school is not safe.
"Anybody who’s supporting brick and mortar schools opening right now is basically saying I’m okay with sending kids and teachers to die, because that’s what’s going to happen," Mack said.
But the state ordered all school districts to come up with a back-to-school plan that includes physical classroom instruction. If they don’t do that, they could lose millions in funding.
Mack says no amount of school funding is worth putting her loved one’s lives at risk.
"It’s not my life I’m concerned about, it’s my grandmother's, it’s my daughter's life – it’s all the things I’d be spreading around because I’d be pushed into a school," Mack said.
Monday, Pino stated he provided data and information to the district for their reopening plan. However, at Tuesday’s meeting members of the school board felt that wasn’t enough. Teachers say they are disappointed the district can’t make a decision.
Freedom High School English teacher Nicholas Anderson is anxious to plan out his fall semester. However, he’s waiting for a plan himself.
“I want to hear a plan from the school board," Anderson said. "This is where the buck stops because they are the ones in charge of managing this district.”
OCPS District 6 School Board member Karen Dentel feels they haven’t received enough information from Pino.
“He gave us no guidance," Dentel said Tuesday. "In an e-mail to parents who asked for his recommendation, he said this was the board’s call and we should choose wisely.”
Part 1 of 2.@OCPSnews School Board Member @KCastorDentel talks about @OrangeCoFL Department of Health's Dr. Raul Pino, and her disappointment in his role when it comes to the districts reopening plan. @MyNews13 #N13Covid19— Spectrum News Asher Wildman (@AsherWildman13) July 17, 2020
District will meet again tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/falFU5mGtv
But that’s not entirely what the doctor ordered.
“We had a working session the week before where I presented all the data," Pino said. "The data has not changed. With regard to making a decision, I don’t consider that I have that authority.”
Pino also said during a Thursday afternoon press conference that there’s no chance of zero percent transmission in a school, because a school is a reflection of a community.
It’s statement Nicholas Anderson thinks is pretty clear.
“They’ve heard in so many words people will die as a result," a frustrated Anderson explained.
Part 2 of 2.— Spectrum News Asher Wildman (@AsherWildman13) July 17, 2020
Today I asked @OrangeCoFL Dr. Raul Pino for a response to what he said earlier in the week, and what was said about him the other night at the @OCPSnews district when it comes to the districts reopening plans. @MyNews13 #N13Covid19 pic.twitter.com/fZnfn5nZrK
Dentel said they want more guidance.
“No direction means he wants us to open up the school doors,” Dentel said.
But Pino says it’s not up to him.
“You don’t want to be happening is that I advise the board in public do this, do that." Pino pleaded. "And later you figure out you don't have that authority … oops."
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