Duval schools superintendent: ‘It will be a slow process getting back to 100% face-to-face-instruction’

Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene awaits new CDC guidelines as questions remain about distance learning

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The next chapter in education could read a lot different as learning has moved online because of the coronavirus.

“It’s crisis learning,” said mother of three Jeanine Hoff. “It was thrown together.”

Hoff, who is a former educator and is currently a mental health advocate, is among thousands of local parents are now stepping in as students have been separated from their teachers.

“I have color coordinated schedules for each child,” Huff said.

That structure is needed.

According to the National Education Policy Center, there are 57 million children enrolled in kindergarten through high school who are now virtual or distance learners.

Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene tells Action News Jax’s Ben Becker it could stay that way for a while as Centers for Disease Control guidelines evolve.

“If we are talking about getting physically in our buildings serving students the normal school schedule, I am not sure we will be able to do that at the very beginning of the school year,” Greene said. “It will be a slow process getting back to 100% face-to-face-instruction.”

The U.S. Department of Education said there have been hundreds of studies comparing virtual and face to face and distance learning, but they reach various conclusions.

Becker emailed the Duval County and St. Johns County school districts to find out how often students log onto distance learning websites. He discovered that on school days, 94% in St. Johns and 77% in Duval are participating. However, both districts say other students engage with teachers through email phone calls and printed packets.

“I hope it’s not the new normal," said a tearful Robin Nelson, a first grade teacher at Ortega Elementary who said students are in danger of regressing.

It's the new normal for now, but Hoff advises do not let home schooling be a hassle.

“I think it important to be compassionate and understanding,” Hoff said. “If it doesn’t get done today, you have tomorrow and you can do it then.”

Florida is not a stranger to virtual learning. It requires each high school student to take at least one online course before graduation. In addition, The Florida Virtual School offers over 150 classes to students across the state.