By Elise Fisch
After the Thanksgiving break, schools remained closed to students, keeping classes virtual for two weeks following the holiday in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and per the advice of the Orange County Health Commissioner, Dr. Irina Gelman. It is apparent now that numbers in the district are on the rise, after three employees and two students tested positive in just one week’s time. The positive cases in the schools mean that an estimated 265 people, students and staff, have been impacted by potentially coming in contact with the virus.
On Thurs., Dec. 3, the Florida Union Free School District Board of Education held a work session immediately followed by a special meeting to discuss and decide on how to move forward with reopening or remaining closed to in-person instruction following the holidays.
Leading the discussion during the work session, Superintendent of Schools Jan Jehring, said it was her belief that the schools should remain closed through the winter break, keeping to a wholly remote schedule of instruction until Jan. 15, 2021. Jehring mentioned that County Executive Steven Neuhaus had reported earlier that week that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases had reached 218 in the county. Along with the cases reported within the district, the superintendent felt closing for the duration was the only option for safety.
This differs from the Board’s original plan to reopen for the seven and a half days between Dec. 14 and Dec. 23, which had previously been decided at the Board’s Nov. 19 meeting.
Once the special meeting officially began, the Board was able to formally approve the amendment of their decision to implement the wholly remote instruction model, effective until Jan. 15, 2021. In-person instruction will officially resume on Tues., Jan. 19, after the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday is observed on the previous day. Though schools are closed to students for class, the district will remain open as teachers are expected to arrive on premises to teach remote lessons from inside the classroom. This will ensure teachers have access to any necessary school resources while conducting their lessons.
The board members encourage parents to reach out with any questions that may arise.
The next meeting of the FUFSD Board of Education will be held on Thurs., Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. in the S.S. Seward Institute cafeteria, 53 N. Main St. in Florida.