ORLANDO, Fla. —Orange County Public Schools' Superintendent Dr. Barbara Jenkins is breaking down the district’s decision to move up the school start date by nearly two weeks.
What You Need To Know
- OCPS school start date is now August 10, with first 9 days online
- Superintendent said students won't be penalized if they can't join during that period
- RELATED: Parents Surprised With New Orange County School Year Start Date
This decision caught teachers and families off guard, with all students now in distance learning the first nine days of school during the coronavirus pandemic.
Jenkins said moving up the school start date to August 10 gives everyone the chance to prepare in case a class, school, or the entire district needs to shut down because of an outbreak.
Earlier this month, administrators decided to push the start date to August 21. But late Monday, the district abruptly changed course back to August 10, with 100% distance learning through the platform LaunchEd.
We asked Jenkins about concerns from parents and teachers who are worried they'll have to prepare for the school year nine days earlier than planned.
"For parents who feel inconvenienced in (those) nine days, I have to stress again, there is no penalty if a child does not enter during that nine-day period. Whenever the child enters is when we start tracking attendance, so I don't want anyone to be alarmed if they have significant concerns or issues around that nine-day period," Jenkins explained.
She said these back-to-school plans have always been fluid because of the unprecedented times we're in.
On August 21, students will split into one of the three options parents chose for their child, which includes face-to-face instruction.
Coping with the New Decision
In a year of constant change, Denise Guerrero is seeking stability and a calm escape for her two kids.
“They’ve been so out of sorts,” Guerrero said. “This has been nothing like any of us have ever been through.”
So Guerrero planned a trip to her family’s home in Michigan. She planned the trip for mid-August after Orange County Public Schools announced they planned to move the start of school from August 10 to the August 21.
But Monday afternoon, Guerrero says she was surprised to see that decision was reversed.
“Boom, surprise, you’re going back to school on the 10th,” said Guerrero. “And it’s just not fair for anyone involved.”
Superintendent Barbara Jenkins says the later start date was never set in stone.
“We said repeatedly the 21st was our tentatively start date. We have said that repeatedly to parents because we’ve never done this before,” Jenkins said.
Guerrero says her kids will begin on August 10. She doesn’t want them to get behind, but her family’s getaway won’t be quite what she was hoping for.
“We definitely didn’t plan on sitting inside doing math and reading for seven hours a day, that’s for sure,” Guerrero said.
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