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Wakulla County superintendent asks for patience as in-person school starts Thursday

Posted at 6:19 PM, Aug 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-12 18:19:20-04

WAKULLA, Fla. (WTXL) — Many parents in Wakulla county will be taking their children to brick and mortar schools starting Thursday morning.

Superintendent Robert Pearce says about 90 percent of the district's 5,200 students will be attending classes in person.

Pearce says he anticipates more parents will be dropping their children off for the first day of school rather than using the school bus system due to social distancing concerns.

As such, he's asked for more assistance from local law enforcement near pick up and drop off areas.

"We'll be doing temperature checks as kids are being picked up from bus stops which have slowed us down a little bit," said Pearce. "So we always have a little trouble with transportation schedules at the beginning of school. I think it'll be a little bit exacerbated as we start school. But I think time will streamline those things get smoother."

Pearce has asked for additional assistance from law enforcement near pick up and drop off locations for those heading back to brick and mortar school tomorrow.

Angie Mercer has two children heading back to brick and mortar schools in Wakulla county. Although she's glad they're heading back, she and former elementary school teacher Rachel Autrey agree that some of the count's guidelines will be harder to enforce for younger children, potentially placing everyone at risk.

"I have mixed feelings," said Mercer." I'm glad that we're getting back to some sense of normalcy. I think it's time for us to try and do that."

"They are going to do temperature checks, they are going to encourage masks on the buses, in the hallways and for the most part in the classroom," Autrey said. "That's going to be very hard to do in an elementary setting. I am, until this year, have been an elementary school teacher, and I have to admit I'm glad that I'm not back in the classroom this year just because of everything going on."

The district has purchased technology devices for all students with priority for those who opted for digital learning. They are also offering training for those devices for parents either online or in person, which may be helpful in the event that schools have to transition back to digital after the semester begins.

"I am trying to prepare for that," said Mercer." I don't have a computer in my home. So I'm a little concerned that if I have to do at homeschooling that it's going to be an expense that I'm not prepared for at this time."

Superintendent Robert Pearce reminds families that everyone in the district is working to adjust.

"I think the thing to remember is that we're not in a normal situation," Pearce said. "At least in comparison to what we're used to. And so to try to pretend that it's normal is not going to really solve anything. So really stay focused on the fact that these are uncharted waters that districts are in across the state and across our nation."

For those returning Thursday, Pearce asks parents to act with patience and courtesy.

The remaining 10 percent of families that opted for digital only-learning will begin on Aug. 27.