The Orange County School Board is expected to vote on moving the start of the school year, as well as a school reopening plan, at its public hearing today.
The board will consider a recommendation to push the start of the school year from Monday, Aug. 10, to Friday, Aug. 21. Aug. 21 is latest possible date without impacting school calendar requirements.
The choices for students include the required Face-to-Face option, Orange County Virtual School, and the proposed alternative, LaunchED@home.
LaunchED@home would need state approval. This option also requires that students receive curriculum and seat time similar to what students in the Face-to-Face model receive. Under LaunchED@home, parents will be able to choose to keep their child at home for the entire time or select a combination of in-school and at-home days.
"We’re no longer safe," Orange County Public Schools teacher Gretchen Robinson told School Board members. "Florida’s new cases are breaking the U.S. records daily. School hasn't even started yet, and last week 18 OCPS employees tested positive. Who are we prepared to bury? I am a teacher and I don't want to die. … I'm terrified of going back into the classroom. The reality is face-to-face teaching under the best of conditions, the best of plans … is unsafe given the explosion of cases we’re experiencing. I have zero interest in playing chicken with a deadly virus."
After the board agrees to the plan, it will be submitted to the state. The district expects a decision on approval from the state within a week. At that time, the district will need to start a parent registration process for the three models and begin coordinating teacher preferences.
"Whatever plans we come up with, they must remain fluid," said Superintendent Dr. Barbara Jenkins.