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LCS grapples with teacher anxiety, laptop shortage as reopen date nears

Posted at 6:19 PM, Aug 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-12 18:19:06-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Classes start in just over two weeks and a lot of problems remain unsolved for Leon County Schools.

As of the afternoon of Aug. 11, 52 percent of Leon County Schools students are registered for brick and mortar instruction with 47 percent online.

The school reopening plan has just been approved by the state, but that doesn't mean they're anywhere near done prepping for this fall semester.

"I don't envy any of their positions in terms of having to create a system that would work for all families," said Casey Yu, a middle school teacher with LCS. "I am concerned for my safety and that of my students. I don't want to accidentally pass something onto them and I'm sure students don't want to do the same. They don't want to be the cause of anybody's grave illness or anything."

The Department of Education approved the district's plan to go hybrid, but some teachers continue to worry, saying mental health is of massive importance for them.

"I know a lot of colleagues are suffering from severe stress and anxiety issues," said Katie Summerlin, a high school teacher in Leon County. "They're trying to cope with something."

"I am concerned for my safety and that of my students," Yu said. "I don't want to accidentally pass something onto them and I'm sure students don't want to do the same. They don't want to be the cause of anybody's grave illness or anything."

Katie Summerlin says she can already see problems coming with social distancing.

"Even with our admin doing a great and wonderful job trying to keep our numbers reasonable we're not going to be able to keep three feet distance between students," Summerlin said. "Not with the numbers."

More than 14,000 students want to go virtual this fall.

With a backlog of laptops, Hanna asks people who can use their own computers to begin the semester.

"We're asking for them to be upfront and honest with us and if they can it would really help with their home device," Hanna said.

Summerlin says she and her colleagues are adjusting as they go, something Hanna encourages for everybody.

"That's what we do," said Summerlin. "If you cut the budget, we figure it out. If the kids are hungry, we figure it out. If there's a school shooter, we figure out how to lock the door and fight with people."

"We are really ready to go," said Rocky Hanna, the LCS superintendent. "This is going to be a historic moment for Leon County Schools. I'm very excited."

At the Tuesday night meeting, the school board said teachers who feel the need to do so can now wear medical scrubs to work to stay safe from the virus.

While the plan has been approved, Hanna wants to remind everyone they will consider going all-virtual at a schools or district-wide if an outbreak happens.