Columbia County schools push back start date to Aug. 24

Updated plan from Columbia County Schools
Updated plan from Columbia County Schools (Copyright 2020 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Fla. – The school district in Columbia County on Monday became the latest district to push back its school start date.

The new start date is now Aug. 24. Last week the district moved the start date from Aug. 10 to Aug. 13.

“This adjustment allows Instructional personnel additional planning time for enhanced digital learning and to implement Covid-19 protocols and procedures. Teachers report August 3, 2020 and 180 day employees report on August 11, 2020,” the district wrote in an update.

The district also began mandating masks and/or face shields for all employees while on campus or school board property when they can’t socially distance.

Elementary schools will also stagger start times for PK – K for the first week of school. PK – K parents wearing masks will be allowed to walk their child to class on the first day of school.

Columbia County Schools emphasized that the plans are fluid and subject to change as the district tries to figure out how to safely resume learning this fall amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In Columbia County, there will be two options for parents to choose and one that may be decided at the state or district level.

Students can return to traditional campus instruction with modifications, including the use of current CDC guidelines regarding social distancing which may be tailored for specific situations, including transportation and classroom size.

Masks will be encouraged but not required for students, according to the district’s plan.

Students can also choose to receive virtual instruction daily from a Columbia County Schools teacher with the option to return to that class or classes in a traditional brick-and-mortar setting on an agreed-upon date.

“This option provides families flexibility to continue virtual instruction at home with the ability to rejoin the student’s class when comfortable doing so,” the district wrote in reopening plans.

In a third option, full-time distance learning, all students work from home the entire time. Distance Learning Work packets will be provided to students who need them, though the goal is to increase the focus on virtual/digital learning through Google Classroom, the district said.

Each school began contacting parents the week of July 13 to determine parents’ choice.

On Tuesday, the district also held a healthy child workshop led by healthcare officials for parents at the school board auditorium.

Other highlights of the plan:

  • Beginning August 10, 2020, all schools will be on a “closed campus” schedule. No parents, volunteers or visitors will be allowed on campus unless they have an appointment.
  • All classrooms will have desks spaced out and furniture will be removed or rearranged to create as much space between students as possible.
  • Water fountains will be off or covered.
  • No out of county trips except FHSAA sanctioned events during the first nine weeks.
  • Parents are encouraged to transport their children to school.

View the entire plan here.

About the Author: