Lee County Schools reopening task force begins talks for school year plan

Reporter: Anika Henanger Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:

As we make our comeback from the pandemic, Florida schools have an important decision to make: Keep children at home, or bring them back to class next year.

School District of Lee County’s reopening task force met for the first time Thursday to start discussion about what next school year will look like.

The task force is trying to answer some tough questions:

  • What will it look like here in august?
  • How and will they put 95,000 students and 12,000 employees back in classrooms?

The task force is asking teachers, staff and parents for solutions.

“I don’t want their learning to be upset at all,” Brenda Clark said.

Clark is representing parents on the District’s reopening task force.

The group will meet during the summer and make recommendations.

“I want them to continue their education as normal, their school life as normal, their friends as normal,” Clark said. “So it’s very important to me that I’m involved and have a say so.”

Kevin Daly, the president of Teachers Association of Lee County says frontline teacher feedback is important.

“Moving forward we’re going to expand the group to include in-the-classroom teachers and support staff,” Daly said. “Will have them take a look at the plans and see if that’s really doable.”

The District sent out surveys to teachers, parents and staff.

Questions included:

  • What do you think you need in the classroom?
  • What does your classroom look like coming back with social distancing?

School board member Melisa Giovannelli wants anyone to be able to ask questions during the meetings. Currently, they’re recorded and will be placed online

“It’s very important for me to have transparency and the public to be able to see what’s going on,” Giovannelli said. “However, it will not be something that will be interactive, where the public can actually have an input.”

Giovannelli told us she plans to ask the superintendent about opening the task force up to public comment.

Those on the task force told us they’re just getting started, but safety of students and staff members are their priority.

From medical professional, to police officers, to superintendents, to principals, they’re trying to come up with options in case they can’t reopen as normal.

And the teacher’s union told us there is no timeline on when we will know what changes your student will see. The goal is to get it right. That might mean quick changes.

They told us, while they all have a vote, the virus will still potentially play a role in that ultimate decision. If a second wave happens, they might have to completely revamp any plans.

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