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Leon County Schools moves forward with reopening plan after FEA ruling

Posted at 11:17 PM, Aug 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-24 23:17:41-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Following Leon County Judge Charles Dodson ruling that the executive order requiring brick and mortar schools to reopen this month or lose funding is unconstitutional, the Leon County School District released a statement saying the ruling does not change anything for the reopening of schools.

At a Monday night town hall with LCS principals, superintendent Rocky Hanna shared what that means for parents, teachers, and students in our community.

"We're starting schools as planned on Monday," Hanna said. "Right now we have no plans to deviate from that plan."

LCS is moving forward with roughly half the district's 30,000-plus students enrolled for digital and in-person instruction, respectively.

"As of right now, plans are to reopen schools for those 15,000 children," said Hanna.

A town hall held by School Board Member Darryl Jones showed the reality of what some physical classrooms may look like next week.

"I'm sitting at 71 percent of my students having opted for digital academies," said Rusty Edwards, the principal at Fairview Middle School.

"Our largest class sizes average nine students," Oak Ridge Elementary School principal Jasmine Smith said.

Principals of District 3 schools walked through safety policies and unique protocol they have put in place for students, like mask breaks.

"We're adding even on the playgrounds for recess that they can take a break and go into a socially distant area," said Anicia Robinson, the principal at Sabal Palm. "Put a couple of signs on the fences and make sure that's going to be a mask break spot."

Concern for digital platform reliability was also addressed.

"There was an issue with Canvas, Florida State uses Canvas, TCC uses Canvas," Hanna said. "Because there are so many people trying to gain access we know there will be technical issues."

A help center will be set up to troubleshoot technical troubles.

Regardless of how different the school year may look this year, principals say that they are still holding students to a high standard.

"We're going to expect the same expectations that we have in a regular setting where we set the bar high and expect our students to meet it," said Carmen Conner, the Pineview Elementary principal.

Hanna also listed the state's appeal of the judge's decision as another reason to move forward with reopening as it will put the district in a difficult position.