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 day 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 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 here.