Long line during laptop checkouts for Duval Homeroom

Some parents upset that people were standing too closely

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Duval County Public School has started checking out laptops to eligible parents and students who filled out the school board’s survey asking if their child has access to a device and WiFi.

It was all in preparation for a virtual learning system called Duval Homeroom, which begins on Monday amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

A few parents told News4Jax they were upset over the process due to the amount of people who were closely standing in line as they waited to pick up the devices at Ed White High School.

“I’m very upset. I think just the restrictions and the guidelines that Mayor Curry has put down that we’re not to have more than 50 people congregating in an area,” said a Duval County parent who asked to remain anonymous.

The parent was referring to Jacksonville banning certain businesses from having more than 50 people inside at one time. It’s part of Curry’s effort to have everyone practice social distancing during the virus outbreak.

The parent said that she along with other eligible high school parents were sent an email to check out a computer to get ready for Duval Homeroom.

“We knew this was going to be the biggest hurdle for us, getting these devices into the hands of children,” said Dr. Diana Greene, the school superintendent. “We serve more than 130,000 students, and it’s important to our school board. It’s important to this administration that we do everything possible to try to be a positive influence in challenging times.”

Greene helped distribute more that 25,000 computers at Ribault High School Saturday morning. She said within the first hour, more than 1,000 computers were checked out.

In preparation, 7,000 teachers have been trained for virtual learning. Greene said even though Duval Homeroom is starting on Monday that it’s not a requirement to start right at 8 o’clock. The students just need to know that teachers are only available from 8 a.m. to 2:50 p.m.

DCPS said laptop distributions for high school students began Saturday. Distribution for middle school students begins Monday, and elementary will happen sometime during the week.

Kindergarten through fifth-grade students will have access to educational packets, which can be accessed three ways: Picked up at bus stops, picked up at the nearest elementary school or they can be printed online off the school’s Duval Homeroom website.

DCPS said Duval Homeroom's website will be up and running no later than Sunday night. It also added they know they will hit a few snags along the way as students make this transition, but their goal is to make this as painless as possible.

Greene added each charter school was required to turn in their home instruction plan and every charter school has done so, so they will be following their own home program.

About the Author: