Facing The Fall: St. Johns County becomes the first school district to delay start date

File photo
File photo

The St. Johns County School District became the first district in Northeast Florida to officially push back its start date on Tuesday with a unanimous vote from the school board. The Putnam County superintendent has decided to delay the start of school by two weeks, a change that will be voted on next month, and Columbia County also changed its start date from Aug. 10 to Aug. 13 on Tuesday.

School districts around the state, including those in Duval and Clay counties, are considering similar schedule changes this week with the hope the recent surge of COVID-19 cases will calm down by the time September rolls around and to give teachers and school officials more planning time. Georgia’s largest school district decided it won’t have in-person start.

While parents and teachers have pushed for schools to delay reopening or stay online altogether, early indications show a majority of parents plan to send students back to school this fall. Some parents are likely counting on what Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday, that the state will soon contain the virus outbreak. Others have said they don’t have a choice because they need to get back to work.

So far, Florida has averaged more than 10,000 additional cases each day in July and a new study out of South Korea released last week is not a good sign. The study suggests that children older than can transmit the virus as easily as adults.

School districts have warned parents lot can still change from now until the time the school year begins, so stay tuned.


Speaking of changes, something you all should be used to in the era of COVID-19, the Facing The Fall Virtual Town Hall that was scheduled for this week has been postponed.

The virtual forum with leaders from the Duval County school district is now scheduled for 11 a.m. on July 30 and will be hosted by anchor Jennifer Waugh and education reporter Joe McLean.

Our education team will field questions from the public and bring them to those in charge of making decisions. You can begin to leave your questions at the link at the bottom of this newsletter.

Now, let’s check out the latest education developments:

St. Johns County School Board to consider when to reopen schools
St. Johns County School Board to consider when to reopen schools

St. Johns County school board votes to push back start date 3 weeks

The 2020-2021 school year will now begin on Aug. 31. It was scheduled to begin on Aug. 10. The change means that the last day of school will move to June 16, shortening the summer for students and teachers next year.

File Photo
File Photo

Technical woes have made online school registration difficult for some Duval parents

With the registration date looming Friday, server issues have caused problems for Duval County parents trying to sign their students up to learn online next school year. Here’s how to do it. As of Friday, less than 10% of students have signed up for online learning.

Football (Pixabay)

Going against medical advice in rush to return to football practice worries coaches

School districts in Florida were given the green light to start sports practices on schedule in the fall, despite words of warning from doctors.

That has caused concern for some coaches, players and parents and it’s nowhere near slowing down.

FEA President Fedrick Ingram
FEA President Fedrick Ingram (Credit: Fox News)

Florida’s largest teachers union sues state over school reopening order

The Sunshine State’s largest teacher and education worker union, the Florida Education Association (FEA), announced legal action against the state of Florida on Monday over the education commissioner’s order to open school buildings five days a week in August. The leader of the union called the order reckless and unconstitutional. Teachers called it a matter of life and death.

File Photo
File Photo

Duval County school bus drivers still waiting for answers

Bus drivers are concerned the two biggest deterrents for the coronavirus, masks and socially distancing, will be difficult to enforce on the buses.

“They’ve given us no answers to any concerns,” said Rebecca Cardona, a representative with Teamsters Local 512.

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Guidance for masks in schools varies widely across US states

School districts that plan to reopen classrooms in the fall are wrestling with whether to require teachers and students to wear face masks — an issue that has divided urban and rural schools and yielded widely varying guidance.

(Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP, File)
(Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP, File) (Orlando Sentinel)

Virus concerns nudge some teachers toward classroom exits

As pressure mounts for teachers to return to their classrooms this fall, concerns about health risks from the coronavirus are pushing many toward alternatives, including career changes, as others mobilize to delay school reopenings in hard-hit areas.

File Photo
File Photo

Virtual learning can be struggle for students with special needs

About one in five children in the U.S. has learning and attention issues. For these kids, a virtual education can be a real struggle.

What are your back-to-school questions?

What are your burning questions as students prepare to return to school in August? Follow this link to submit a question and the News4Jax Education Team will work to get the answer.

Meet the team

The News4Jax Education Team is led by Reporter Joe McLean (jmclean@wjxt.com) who has nearly 10 years of experience as an investigative journalist covering everything from education to politics in Missouri.

Joining him is Digital Reporter Travis Gibson (tgibson@wjxt.com), a Jacksonville native and former high school sports reporter who has written about race issues and allegations of abuse on university and high school campuses across the country.

The goal is to have our reporters bring your questions and concerns to education leaders and hold them accountable. You’ll see their work online and on TV starting this week and throughout the school year.

Facing the Fall is our newsletter covering Jacksonville’s return to school. Interested? You’re already signed up. Our team of reporters will send updates to keep you informed. Not interested? Unsubscribe here.

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