ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – St. Johns County Superintendent Tim Forson said Tuesday that while he is concerned about the number of novel coronavirus cases in the school district, he has confidence in the district’s cautious approach to containing the virus.
According to data published by the district on Friday, the district has a total of 23 COVID-19 positive students and six positive staff members.
A total of 491 students and 31 staff members were quarantined at home as of Friday.
Forson said quarantining students is a necessary precaution.
“The quarantine is large but the quarantine is an action or precautionary step to take so that it doesn’t become widespread," Forson said on The Morning Show. "It is the right step for us to keep moving in the direction that we’re moving. So even if that quarantine number jumps up to 500 or 600 or 800, if that’s the right thing to do, for us to continue in the structure that we have today, then that’s what we’re going to do.”
Forson also said the district is trying to reduce the burden on teachers who are feeling overwhelmed teaching in-person and also online for virtual and distance learning students.
He sent a letter last week, asking parents to please understand that their child’s teacher may not be able to respond to parent questions during the school day. He explained that parents with students learning remotely have been asking questions through chat sessions or during live instruction, which is preventing the teachers from focusing on teaching.
“Teachers have high expectations so they want to be engaged and responsive, but the reality is that time communicating with parents during the instructional phase is taking away from the instructional day.”
Forson said parents have been “awesome and patient”, he just asks that they not expect a response to a parent’s question until after the school day is over.
Forson said the district is doing its part, as well, to try to reduce the stress on teachers.
"The best thing we can do to assist them is to try to clear a path and take away other responsibilities or tasks that may typically be in place for teachers at this point. So I think for us, it is taking away as many other workloads and expectations they might have,” he explained.