Questions remain as Duval County students return to schools

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Duval County students are set to return to class Thursday morning and many families say they still have questions that have gone unanswered.

News4Jax has received a flood of messages from parents, teachers and even students, all of them citing concerns or confusion about the impending school year, particularly, the first day.

And those questions begin at the bus stop.

Despite classes starting on Thursday, many Duval County parents who plan for their child to ride the school bus told News4Jax that they’ve received no information about which bus stop to use.

It’s the first year families are being asked to register their children for transportation and with a new system like that, a district spokesperson said there’s bound to be a learning curve.

Phones at the district’s transportation center have been flooded with calls from families asking where their child will be picked up.

The district posted an update to social media Thursday afternoon, saying, “If parents have not yet received confirmation of bus stop info in focus or via bus hotline, they can come to the bus stop most convenient until an official bus stop has been assigned.”

The district said Duval County bus stop information is now posted online, and added that it still encourages parents to register for bus transportation and seek confirmation of their official bus stop.

A district spokesperson added that many families may not qualify for transportation if their students attend certain magnet schools or live within a mile-and-a-half of their school.

Another common concern came from students like Alainna Parungao, a junior at Darnell-Cookman School of the Medical Arts. Aspiring to eventually attend medical school, Parungao signed up through Duval HomeRoom to take AP Biology among her elective courses.

She says in the last week she was instead enrolled in art classes and a foreign language course. And she said she’s not alone.

“Most people had at least three or more classes that were just like completely random, and they were just like filler classes, classes you could take anywhere,” Parungao said. “I’m kind of insulted because I was planning on taking bigger classes that were actually going to make me stand out for college.”

The district issued a statement about the changes:

Schools always work with students to meet their needs and requests during this time of year, and the multiple enrollment platforms do present a special challenge as we try to manage through the pandemic. Students and parents who have concerns about their schedules should contact their schools or guidance counselors to determine their enrollment options. Even though we were very open Duval HomeRoom could only support a limited number of electives, schools are doing everything possible to help students get into a schedule that works for them using every option we have. Schedules will always be set to meet graduation requirements.

Duval County Public Schools

Other families said they haven’t even gotten their child’s final schedule or had a teacher assigned to their class.

Students and parents who have questions or concerns about their schedules are asked to contact their schools or guidance counselors, the district said.

Superintendent Diana Greene said in a press event on Wednesday that the district will have staff available starting Thursday at the Schultz Center to answer questions or help families get oriented on transportation, virtual learning, equipment, or anything else they need. Parent support will be available 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. during the week until Aug. 25.

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