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Nassau superintendent supports idea of pushing back school start date

Nassau superintendent supports idea of pushing back school start date

NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. – The Nassau County School Board will vote Thursday on its plan to reopen schools and on whether the start of the school year should be delayed.

Superintendent Kathy Burns said she supports the idea of pushing back the first day of class and thinks the board will agree to the delay.

Burns said the district needs more time to prepare and order supplies, like desk dividers.

She said the most common question she is getting from parents is about the options being offered to students.

“I think one of the confusions may be that we are offering brick and mortar -- that is coming back to the school -- and that the second option is school-based learning,” Burns said on The Morning Show. “It will mirror the instruction happening in a classroom with virtual instruction by a teacher who is based at the school. And then the third option is Nassau Virtual. So one of the biggest concerns, I think, that comes from our families are the flexibility in either one of those plans.”

That flexibility means that if your student signs up for either school-based distance learning or virtual instruction, he or she will only have to commit to one semester of learning at home. So if they want to switch back to brick-and-mortar later in the year, they can do that.

A teacher raised concerns about the availability of sanitizing supplies for the year.

“We will make it work. We know that is going to be a need, and we’re preparing for that now,” Burns said. “I don’t think anyone could have anticipated or planned for the impact on our budget that this pandemic has had, but we will do what is necessary to keep our students and our staff safe and healthy during this time.”

Jamie Vinneau, president of the Nassau Teachers Association, knows the state left local counties without a lot of time to prepare. And she still wants answers about teachers’ workloads, which could include juggling in-person, hybrid and online learning formats.

RELATED: Nassau County’s back-to-school plan includes 3 options

“There’s a lot of questions surrounding teachers on who’s responsible for that model,” Vienneau said earlier this month. “Is it the classroom teacher? Are we going to hire virtual teachers? I think the plan is kind of weak. Who is responsible for what, and what are we really going to be doing?”

Burns said she has asked the board to spend $250,000 on desk dividers, which would first be placed in elementary schools. She'd like to put them in all schools, including in cafeterias.

The current deadline for parents to select an option for their child’s learning this school year is July 29 but that could change after Thursday’s School Board meeting.

Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions, via the district:

In some programs (PE, Band, Music, etc.) where social distancing is a challenge, what strategies are being used for health and safety?

Teachers will continue to teach appropriate health and safety protocols, such as social distancing and hand hygiene. While participating in physical activities, masks will not be worn based on guidance from CDC.

If a student tests positive for COVID-19, will all teachers/students in that child’s seven classes be sent home to quarantine?

Per CDC guidelines, only those with close personal contact to the student must quarantine. CDC defines close personal contact as being within 6 feet of a positive individual for 15 minutes without Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Will quarantined students/teachers be required to produce a negative COVID-19 test before returning to school?

Per CDC guidelines, testing is not required. The local Department of Health in collaboration with school nurses will provide guidance for the student/teacher to return to school.

If a student tests positive for COVID-19 in the Traditional Brick & Mortar, is he/she moved to the School-Based Distance Learning model?

The student will remain with their original class and receive teacher support while at home.

How will quarantined students continue their education while home awaiting clearance to return to school?

The student will remain with their original class and receive teacher support while at home.

If a member of a student’s household tests positive for COVID-19, will the student be asked to quarantine for 14 days at home? How is learning affected for this student?

Yes, the student will need to quarantine for 14 days at home. The student will remain with their original class and receive teacher support while at home.

If a teacher or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, who will be asked to quarantine for 14 days?

Per CDC guidelines, only those with close personal contact to the person who tests positive must quarantine. CDC defines close personal contact as being within 6 feet of a positive individual for 15 minutes without PPE.

If my child starts as a virtual learner, can they switch back to brick and mortar school later in the year?

A continuous and consistent learning environment is best for student success. However, we understand parents and students may have compelling reasons to transition back to the brick and mortar. Transfers should occur after the completion of the semester.

What precautions are being taken for our medically fragile students?

School nurses will work with the school staff, family and student’s physician on student-specific needs.


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