School Board special meeting/workshop to discuss masks, school start date and other reopening issues

Press release from Alachua County Public Schools

The School Board of Alachua County will be holding a special meeting/workshop on Wednesday, July 15 at 4 p.m. to vote on and discuss items related to the reopening of schools.

Superintendent Karen Clarke will be bringing forward two recommendations for a Board vote. They include a requirement that all students and staff wear masks at schools and on school buses, with some exemptions based on age and medical condition. 

“We’ve heard from many families that they would feel more comfortable with a return to brick-and-mortal schools if masks were required,” said Superintendent Karen Clarke. “We’ve developed a draft policy that has been reviewed and approved by the Alachua County Health Department.”

The second recommendation is a delay of the start of the school year for students until August 24. Currently the first day of school for students is scheduled for August 10.

Last week Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran issued an emergency order requiring all public schools open in person for all students beginning in August. Districts that also want to offer an ‘innovative alternative,’ such as ACPS’ Digital Academy, must submit their plan to the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) by July 31. The plan must meet new state requirements and include an estimate of the number of families who plan to choose an online option for their students. 

“In light of these new requirements and all the planning and preparation that will need to be done, including staff training, we think it’s best to delay the return of students until the 24th,” said Clarke. 

The later start date for students would also mean a later return-to-work date for teachers and other 10-month staff, although that schedule and its impact on employees will have to be discussed with the Alachua County Education Association, which represents the district’s teachers and educational support professionals.

During the meeting/workshop, which will be conducted online, district staff will be presenting additional information to the Board about the reopening of schools, particularly the three instructional options the district is offering families—the  traditional, in-person option mandated by the state and two online options, including the Digital Academy and the Alachua eSchool. More details on all three options, an FAQ, and the option form families are asked to complete by 11:59 p.m July 19 are available on the district’s Choose Your School Option website at: https://fl02219191.schoolwires.net/Page/29815

Citizens can review the agenda for the meeting, which includes instructions for watching on YouTube and providing input, at: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1srkwn3I1opSvQMIvs0wiTjraAas0zXki/view

  • Is your kids’ education my responsibility or the parents
    Responsibility? Shouldn’t parents pay their fair share
    For their children in public school? Should we add a user
    Fee if you have children in public school for the nurse,
    The cop, the lunch, the materials, the bussing? The Florida
    State constitution says “children deserve a free education”…
    How about taxpayers pay half the cost, the parent
    Pays half the cost?

    • I don’t understand what you are asking.
      As for the text you quoted from the state Constitution, “children deserve a free education,” you may have mistakingly left out the key word “access.”
      It can be found in Chapter 1003 Section 21 Paragraph 2f. It refers to “children and youths who are experiencing homelessness and children who are known to the department, as defined in s. 39.0016, must have access to a free public education and must be admitted to school in the school district in which they or their families live.”
      Who pays? As taxpayers we pay for the education of the children and youth of the district. It’s in the property taxes. To the extent of the idea of a user fee, probably not a great idea. Nurses are, if needed – for all the children regardless of race or socioeconomic status. Law enforcement presence hopefully never needed but I would hope my child would not go unprotected because I failed to “ante up” a user fee. Isn’t that what elitists do now with their private security?

      • Why have property owners pay for education, shouldn’t
        The parents pay for it instead? Maybe, I’m still not clear..
        Do you think land owners should pay for everyone’s healthcare too? A user fee would be a better way to
        Pay for education…use school services? pay a fee…
        Use the public pool? Pay a fee. Use the library? Pay a fee. Wouldn’t this be more equitable? What else do
        You want me to pay for? You want me to fix your car and
        Put gas in it too? There’s gotta be a better way to pay
        For other people’s responsibilities than clunk it all in
        The property owner…maybe a fair tax instead? You
        Pay your bills, I’ll pay mine…

        • Try telling that to local leaders. Who do you think pays for “their” projects? All roads within the county and state are not used by all people but taxes are used to pay for those. Our taxes are also used to pay for healthcare already. I am not for socialized medicine like the majority of the “left.”
          I stated I didn’t understand the intent of the prior opinion piece. I still don’t and you have mentioned nothing to clarify. Last I checked land taxes do not go towards healthcare.
          I would love a fair tax. Would love a reasonable property tax. Fair utility rates as well. Hell, I would even love someone else to pay for the gas in my car. I have an even better idea…since we don’t get much use out of local leadership maybe we can stop paying for them as well.

  • Today’s meeting is online because it is too dangerous to gather in person. Yet these people are saying it will be safe in 4 weeks to throw thousands of students and teachers and bus drivers together. Something does not add up here.

    • You bring up a very good point. A lot of what is going on in response to the virus does not add up.

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