JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — On Thursday the Duval County School Board decided to delay its decision on learning options for students, and when students should go back to school.
The board postponed their decision to July 23.
Several school board members were in favor of delaying the start date from Aug. 10, to Aug. 24. The board members said doing so would give teachers more time for professional development when it comes to virtual learning.
More than a dozen teachers addressed the board in Thursday's special meeting. They called for changes to the reopening plans.
“I would also like to point out that the board is not comfortable with a full room here,” said DCPS teacher Rachel Baron. “But they do want to send teachers back to have full classrooms.”
The board met to vote on the in-person, virtual, and hybrid learning options for its students, and when students should go back to the classroom.
DCPS superintendent, Dr. Diana Greene, explained what happens in the days leading up to July 23.
“The plan is to go back and have a conversation with our calendar committee which is inclusive of our union,” said Greene.
There were extensive discussions during Thursday’s special meeting of moving the start date back.
School board member, Lori Hershey, suggested an Aug. 24, with a purpose.
“We need to train our teachers and give them time for professional development if we’re going to do this and make it effective,” said Hershey.
Hershey also said pushing the start date back would allow for additional time for campuses to be deep cleaned.
Vice chairwoman, Elizabeth Andersen, suggested starting on Aug. 19.
The board also weighed in its discussion the possibility of an Aug. 24 start date coinciding with the Republican National Convention to be hosted in Jacksonville.
Board member, Ashley Smith Juarez, was in favor of the Aug. 10 start date but suggested every student in the district learning virtually on Duval homeroom.
She also recommended teachers in the district be allowed to work from home, or in a secure and safe location, they see fit, so teachers with health concerns specific to COVID-19 wouldn’t be required to show up at brick and mortar schools.
“I think that’s how we get the case count numbers down so that we can return to school, which is the ultimate goal,” said Smith Juarez.
Before the meeting, Action News Jax spoke to a teacher who told us he supported across the board virtual learning options.
“My concern is for teachers to be paid on time, for teachers to be safe and for students to be safe, and for students to learn,” said DCPS teacher Alex Ingram. “The only way we could do that is with Duval homeroom from day one.”
Dr. Greene said the 100% virtual option is not off the table but would be difficult to implement by the August 10th start date.
She explained the district would have to ensure all students had access to the internet and laptops and said some teachers and students would be entering the district for the first time.
The district must submit its plans to the state for review by July 30.
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