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Leon County School Board works to finalize reopening plans

Posted at 6:25 PM, Aug 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-04 23:13:17-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — There are just 27 days left before the start of school in Leon County as plans to reopen brick and mortar classrooms get mixed reviews from parents and teachers.

The school board touched on everything from safety protocols for teachers and students in physical classrooms to an estimated end date for the school year.

District staff also answered questions on what happens if someone were to get infected with the virus.

"Fourteen school sites, three district sites for a total of 30 positive cases," said Alan Cox, the assistant superintendent of Leon County Schools.

The Leon County School Board broke down numbers of employees who've already tested positive for COVID-19 while reviewing their reopening plan.

Cox says those numbers do not mean they contracted the virus from the school, but brought up a pressing question: What happens if someone gets sick?

"We're looking at the people who were within six feet for 15 minutes or longer," said Coco with the Florida Department of Health. "Those are the people we need to reach out to and contact about that."

Once the infection is reported the district will immediately send out letters to the parents of students in the classroom who have been in contact with the person reported for the next steps.

All employees will be equipped with a mask and face shield.

The district is also implementing disciplinary measures for students who don't wear masks, making it part of their dress code.

But parents and teachers are still fighting against returning to school. While the meeting was underway a caravan in the parking lot of the Aquilina Howell Center protesting the move.

"What we're trying to do here is an experiment and has not been done," said Isabel Ruano, and Leon County Schools parent. "I do not want my children and the community to be guinea pigs of the experiment. I don't want any more deaths."

Ruano, who is also the coordinator of the Tallahassee Community Action Committee caravan against reopening schools in Leon on Tuesday night, says she understands parents who cannot have their children at home because of work and other issues.

She believes the school board should be focusing on providing resources for those families who need extra help without risking the health of teachers and students.

With over 16,814 students in brick and mortar, 12,500 in digital academies and 300 in Leon County virtual the district is hoping to reduce the spread of the virus, receiving help from Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare to get the equipment needed to make masks for the district asking for help from the community.

"We could really use some people who can sew," Cox said.

Due to the pushback, the board reluctantly accepted the end date of the school year to be June 10.

The school board is still waiting on the approval of the Department of Education on their reopening plan.

Last week, the board said there will be no further pushback.