Survey: 69% of St. Johns County parents support return to schools

Superintendent says hybrid learning model is likely this fall

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – Preliminary results released Monday by the St. Johns County School District show that 69% of parents support a return to school campuses this fall.

So far, the district said it has received more than 16,500 responses, about 30% of families, to the survey that was sent out last week.

The goal of the survey is to collect parents’ thoughts on reopening brick-and-mortar schools in August.

“I encourage you to fill out this survey for each of your children, but please just fill it out one time for each child to preserve the integrity of the survey and provide us the most accurate results possible,” Superintendent Tim Forson said in a video posted to the district website.

On Tuesday, Forson and members of the St. Johns County School Board met virtually and talked about how the district will likely move forward when the new school year begins.

“When we come back, and you know at some point we’re going to come back, and we’re hoping that we come back right at the beginning of August, but it, it is very likely going to be some kind of a hybrid model,” Forson said, referring to a mix of in-person learning and distance learning. “I don’t know if that’s in secondary or elementary or wherever it happens to be, but it will be difficult to get back on pace and be able to do some of the things that are recommended or guidelines that we have.”

Forson pointed to possible capacity issues that schools may have if they are forced to follow social distancing guidelines upon reopening.

“So as we go forward, I ask for your engagement, and your involvement and your patience, because it will likely be early July before a final expectation of a plan is in place, which will require input from parents specifically about their child and their intent going into the new school year,” Forson said.

School Board member Patrick Canan agreed that the district should prepare for a hybrid approach and mentioned the other group of respondents who don’t support a return to school.

“Many parents I’m talking to, no matter what the school district does to make sure it’s a secure and safe facility, I hear them talking about keeping their kids out, maybe going into some type of virtual thing,” Canan said. “It’s obvious to all of us that there’s going to be a hybrid scenario, at least in the fall, if we’re able to go back.”

Forson indicated the survey would be the first of multiple surveys for parents.

The form first asks parents what school their child attends and their grade level.

It goes on to ask parents to rank their level of satisfaction with the district’s method and practice of online learning during the fourth quarter of the 2019-2020 school year.

Categories for parents to score include assignments, teacher communication, school communication, their child’s engagement, teacher lessons, student conferencing and online resources.

The survey then asks parents to answer “yes” or “no” to whether they feel comfortable sending their child to school starting Aug. 10. It then asks for parents’ comfort level on three scenarios:

  1. Fulltime return to the school building for face-to-face instruction
  2. Fulltime online learning (100% online)
  3. A blended model of face-to-face instruction at school and online learning (example: possible alternating school times, days, or weeks when students would attend school)

Finally, the form asks parents to rank the level of hardship they would face under a list of possible, unexpected scenarios including short term school closure, postponement or changes to extracurricular activities, disruption to bus route times, suspended of before-and-after school care and the schools requiring access to computers or hotspots.

This survey will close on Wednesday, according to the form.

A recent survey of more than 1,200 St. Johns County teachers found that 30% were uncomfortable returning to an in-person teaching format in August.

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