Late applicants for Duval County schools’ virtual options must wait for review

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – At the start of the school year, more than 40,000 Duval County students were signed up to learn from home.

The school district asked parents to choose between two virtual school options — and a hybrid option that would eventually place students back in the classroom. Parents were asked to commit to at least nine weeks in whichever option they chose. But some are already changing their minds.

The district has extended the deadline to enroll in Duval HomeRoom for a second time. Parents now have until five days after the start of school, Aug. 25, to make their selections. Unlike the initial deadlines, officials say it might take awhile for the district to move a student into the virtual classroom.

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Officials say schools are under pressure to set schedules for the school year. The current class schedule is based on the number of applications that were received by the second deadline, July 31.

In a statement from Duval County Public Schools, the district said “late applicants for Duval Homeroom are being reviewed on an individual basis. The school needs to ensure it has room in the virtual section. ... When we opened up the late applications window, we shared that placement would be based on seat availability.”

District officials say right now there is seat availability for elementary schools. But that’s not necessarily the case for middle and high schools.

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The district posted on its website that families who created a Focus account and were in the process of linking their student before the July 31 deadline can submit applications that will be considered “on-time.”

The district did not have an answer for how many students are currently being reviewed for a seat in Duval HomeRoom.

Attorney LaFonda Middleton said her fourth- and seventh-grade sons, Jordan and Cameron, are enrolled in HomeRoom. Currently, they’re working from Middleton’s office to help separate school work from home, but based on their experience with virtual learning last year, they’re hoping it won’t last long.

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“Initially, it started out okay. And then the last two weeks, I’d say, it was very challenging,” the mother of two told News4Jax. “The bed was right there, the TVs were right there, all of their electronic devices were right there, and it was difficult to get them to focus.”

Middleton said moving her children into an office environment free of distractions they might have around the house has helped, but she acknowledged that they’d like to return to school as soon as possible.

“They’re ready to get back in the classroom, we are ready for them to get back in the classroom, so hopefully soon we’ll get back in the classroom.”

Melanie Lawson contributed to this report.

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