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Facing The Fall: How does RNC cancellation affect Duval’s reopening plan?

CDC Guidelines for Reopening Schools
CDC Guidelines for Reopening Schools

Just minutes before the Duval County school board approved a comprehensive plan to reopen schools, President Donald Trump announced the cancellation of the Republican National convention in Jacksonville.

The surprise move by Trump is relevant to the school plan because Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene has argued that the district should not have to follow an emergency order issued by the Florida Department of Education because the county expected a large influx of visitors, and possibly a surge of new cases when the RNC arrived in late August.

Despite the cancellation, Greene said it doesn’t change a thing. What remains to be seen is if the state feels the same way.

The Duval school district must now submit its hybrid reopening plan to the state for approval. If it is denied, the district could lose out on at least $70 million in funding.

That was just one of many major developments in the education world over the past few days.

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Next week, Greene and other Duval County education leaders will join News4Jax for a virtual forum to talk about the reopening plan and answer questions.

The Facing The Fall Virtual Town Hall scheduled for 11 a.m. next Thursday and will be hosted by anchor Bruce Hamilton 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:

DCPS Superintendent Diana Greene presents reopening plan to school board.
DCPS Superintendent Diana Greene presents reopening plan to school board. (Copyright 2020 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

Duval school board approves plan to start phasing students back Aug. 20, keeps hybrid options

The Duval County school board approved 5-2 a proposed school reopening plan that would push back the start date 10 days and keep a virtual hybrid learning model in place for some students. Some key takeaways: the new plan would start the school year Aug. 20 and the deadline for online learning registration has been extended another week. While the majority of the school board agreed it was the best plan possible under the circumstances, not all teachers and parents agreed.

DCPS: Over 43K students lack technology needed for Duval HomeRoom learning
DCPS: Over 43K students lack technology needed for Duval HomeRoom learning

DCPS: Over 43K students lack technology needed for Duval HomeRoom; district eyes purchase of 50K devices

One of the challenges with the school reopening plan in Duval County is making sure all students have access to a computer. Currently, 43,000 students lack the technology that they need to effectively participate in Duval HomeRoom.

FHSAA reverses course, votes to delay start of fall sports until Aug. 24
FHSAA reverses course, votes to delay start of fall sports until Aug. 24

FHSAA reverses course, votes to delay start of fall sports until Aug. 24

The Florida High School Athletic Association reversed course on Thursday night, hitting the pause button on the start of the fall sports season following days of backlash from all corners of the state to keep the calendar unchanged. Summer conditioning workouts can continue.

St. Johns Education Association and St. Johns County School District representatives negotiate working conditions.
St. Johns Education Association and St. Johns County School District representatives negotiate working conditions. (Screenshot via Facebook)

St. Johns County teachers union pushes for early retirement incentives for at-risk educators

The teachers union and school district in St. Johns County are working to negotiate options for older teachers who might not feel safe returning to school next month. The St. Johns Education Association (SJEA), which represents the nearly 2,700 teachers in the county, and the school district began negotiating that and other teacher options on Wednesday.

Nassau County School Board votes to push start date to Aug. 24
Nassau County School Board votes to push start date to Aug. 24

Nassau County School Board votes to push start date to Aug. 24

According to Superintendent Kathy Burns, out of 11,876 students, about 10,000 families have chosen the option to return to class. Around 850 families have chosen school-based distance learning, and the remainder has chosen virtual learning from Nassau Virtual School. A few hundred families still hadn’t submitted responses.

Bishop Kenny High School releases back-to-school plan.
Bishop Kenny High School releases back-to-school plan. (Bishop Kenny High School)

Area Catholic schools push back school start dates due to PPE delays

The superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of St. Augustine on Thursday announced schools would begin the new school year on August 19, not August 10 as was previously planned.

Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at July 23 COVID-19 news conference in Melbourne.
Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at July 23 COVID-19 news conference in Melbourne. (WPLG)

Union disputes DeSantis’ claim teachers are ‘chomping at bit’ to get back to class

A survey from Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, found 3 of 4 teachers don’t think it’s safe to reopen now.

(Saul Loeb/Pool via AP)
(Saul Loeb/Pool via AP)

CDC releases updated guidelines for reopening schools

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released new guidelines for reopening schools, and officials said parents need to take the lead in working to keep COVID-19 from impacting schools.

President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the White House, Thursday, July 23, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the White House, Thursday, July 23, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

President Trump mirrors DeSantis’ stance on reopening schools

President Donald Trump on Thursday said school districts in states and cities that are considered COVID-19 hotspots should delay reopening schools “for a few weeks” but emphasized that campuses should reopen for the fall term. Trump even said Florida’s caseload is a “problem” in the country.

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 Facing the Fall 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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