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体育在线365As Florida embarks on "Phase 1" of Gov. Ron DeSantis' plan to reopen the state during the coronavirus pandemic, school districts look to the future. 

In its recent report to the governor, the recommended school districts reopen campuses "full-time" in time for the next academic year.

The Florida Department of Education "should develop" a plan to "phase-in education" during the summer months and create "supplemental education" to support students who have fallen behind during the pandemic, the task force said.

体育在线365Among those sitting on the task force's "industry working group" dedicated to education and other topics include: 

  • Richard Corcoran, Florida Commissioner of Education 
  • Jacob Oliva, Chancellor of the Division of Public Schools
  • Michael Grego, Pinellas County Superintendent of Schools
  • John Hage, CEO of Charter Schools USA
  • Melissa Pappas, Orange County Schools teacher of exceptional student education
  • Morris Young, Gadsden County Sheriff 

The working group is one of three groups underneath the task force's executive committee advising the governor. Corcoran also sits on the executive committee. 

体育在线365"Plans should be developed to resume on-campus learning, full-time, for the 2020-2021 school year," the task force says in its "ongoing considerations."

The report does not mention schools in its phases for reopening. Florida shuttered physical school sites for the remainder of this academic year.  

体育在线365While the broad direction from the state to reopen in the fall is clear, the path forward is uncertain for public school districts like Leon County, Florida's capital county. 

From opening at 50% capacity to students eating lunch meals at their desks, "all options are on the table," Superintendent Rocky Hanna said Monday. 

体育在线365He spoke to the Tallahassee Democrat recently about what the school district plans to do for the future of local education as the coronavirus pandemic continues. 

体育在线365“Until we hear definitively from the governor, from the commissioner, it’s hard for us to plan based on hearsay," he said. 

体育在线365The district has created its own "work group" devoted to planning for "Pandemic 2.0." Assistant Superintendent Gillian Gregory is one of the district officials leading the initiative. Gregory oversees academic services at the district and is one of five assistant superintendents.

The work group is comprised of district staff in various departments which include nutritional services, academic achievement, exceptional student education and transportation. 

"There are many, many parts to a pandemic response," she said. 

A few members of the group, including Gregory, have already met to prepare. District officials also plan to meet with Pasco County Schools staff to compare notes on pandemic response. 

North of Tampa, Pasco County's school district is similar to Leon in size, Gregory said, and is a district that has figured out the "one-to-one" — the ratio of students who have laptops or computers. 

Leon County Schools is looking at a three-tiered approach for forging on during the pandemic. The first avenue has to do with continuing distance-learning and building upon what is already in place. 

体育在线365"What we're trying to do is improve what we did in the spring with more information from our community that, should something happen in the fall, we'll have a better experience for students than what we've all lived through in the past couple of weeks," Gregory said. 

体育在线365Hanna also told the Democrat that the school district is aware more students need laptops and that the district should limit the number of online platforms teachers are using. District officials are looking into ways to connect more students with the Internet and streamline platforms, he said. 

Back story:

On Thursday, the district launched its "SmartBus Initiative" and outfitted 15 buses with Wi-Fi routers to park at select sites during the week. School Board member Alva Striplin also has pushed the district to spend the funds necessary, or take out a loan, to cover the cost of getting kids online. 

More: 'SmartBus Initiative': Leon County Schools outfits buses with Wi-Fi routers to expand Internet access

In the past, the district has reported that roughly 95% of students have engaged with their schooling, which translates to roughly 32,100 of the 33,800 traditional public school students in the county. 

The second tier in the district's game plan has to do with students fully returning to "brick and mortar" school sites, Hanna said.

The logistical challenges will require the summer months to plan as the district weighs health guidance coming from the county health department and instructions from local governments and the state's education department. 

The third and more sobering path for the district is "we come back and then are told again to retreat home," the superintendent said. 

体育在线365When asked by a reporter at a recent press conference announcing the "Plan for Florida's Recovery," Gov. Ron DeSantis said any future spikes of confirmed cases of the coronavirus would be evaluated, but would not necessarily shut down the whole state. 

体育在线365In Leon County, Hanna is looking at how restaurants handle their reopenings as a vague indication for what might happen with schools. In the first phase of DeSantis' plan, restaurants may operate at 25% capacity with 6 feet between patrons. 

More: Coronavirus Florida: DeSantis unveils phased reopening plans for restaurants, businesses

But Hanna said he thinks schools should be "all in or not in" and that a "soft" open isn't practical. He added that what the district could not afford was a "week by week" uncertainty like what happened as students went home in March for spring break and then never returned. 

体育在线365“A public school system is just not that easy to control," he said. “I’d really prefer all in and let’s just be done with this."

Contact CD Davidson-Hiers at CDavidsonH@jameswburdick.com, or follow her on Twitter @DavidsonHiers. 

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