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September 8, 2020 - SCSB Workshop

Superintendent Roush updates the Suwannee County School Board on the reopening of school.

August 6, 2020 - Florida Department of Education Approves Suwannee Plan

July 31, 2020 - SCSD Opening Options

Coming Back to School on August 10, 2020

Parents and Students,

Your SCSD schools are ready for you!  If you did not register for your choice in our Opening Options Survey (which is now closed), please take a moment to call your school and let them know which of the Opening Options that you are selecting for the 2020-2021 School Year.  In order to have classes and teachers ready, we need to know what type of enrollment you are planning.  

The Opening Options parent information sheet is below, as well as a long list of Frequently Asked Questions.  Just scroll down.

We hope you are ready for a great year, because we've sure missed having you around!

July 16, 2020 - Frequently Asked Questions Regarding a SAFE and HEALTHY Reopening

Parent Survey Responses

On a recent parent survey, we asked parents to let us know what they wanted to know prior to school starting on August 10, 2020.  The list of questions and answers below has been generated using those parent suggestions.

Frequently Asked Questions from Parent Survey

When and why is school reopening?

  • The most recent executive order has determined that all Florida schools will open in August with a five day, face-to-face option for parents in need of that option. 
  • Suwannee County School District will reopen as scheduled on August 10, 2020.

 Why are we not delaying the start of school?  Some schools starting after Labor Day?

  • Based on local and state data, as well as input from other state and local agencies, the SCSD feels that we can open safely for our students.  Some districts are delaying their opening because they need time to get their distance learning plans in order.  Our district has had the resources in place for successful distance learning for the past four years.  We are ready to safely serve our community.
  • Many parents have voiced a need for some sense of normalcy.  We believe that beginning school on time provides that.
  • We would not be suggesting a start on August 10, 2020 if we did not firmly believe that we can provide great options, as well as safe/healthy environments for our students and staff.

 How does the District determine when to start school?

  • There are Florida Statutes and Florida Board of Education policies that set parameters around the opening and closing of Florida’s public schools, however it is the role of the local Superintendent and School Board to make decisions regarding opening and closing of schools for Suwannee County School District.

 In the future, when and how will a decision to close school be made?

  • The Suwannee County School District will not shut down all schools unless ordered to do so by the Governor of Florida.  The District recognizes that decisions related to closures should be made on a case by case and school by school basis and would not have closed the entire district in March had it not been for the Governor’s order to do so.
  • The Superintendent relies on a team of individuals that will be following data and making day-to-day decisions related to quarantines and recommended closures.  This is a long-standing process that has been utilized previously for closings related to events such as hurricanes, floods, and other inclement weather.

 Will masks be required for students, faculty, and staff?

  • Masks and other Personal Protective Equipment will be permitted, but not required.
  • Masks should be of a solid color with no messaging.
  • SCSD faculty and staff cannot ensure that masks are properly worn at all times.  If your expectation is that your child wears a mask, please have a conversation with your child about your expectations before they get to school.

 What is the district planning to do to make the classroom a safe environment for adults and children?

  • Throughout the day, there will be continuous sanitization of all touch surfaces.
  • Additional custodial staff
  • Vindicator+ Sanitizer (link to MSDS)
  • Hand Sanitizer in all classrooms
  • Reduce sharing of supplies and materials
  • Evaluation of the ability to eliminate extra furniture in classrooms to allow for more distancing, as needed

 Will parents be able to walk students to class on the first day of school?

  • The District recognizes that reducing traffic in the classroom is essential for reducing exposure for our students.  Parents will not be permitted to walk students to the classroom on the first days of school.  Principals will have procedures in place to ensure that students are not expected to find their way to their classroom alone.  School staff will make parents aware of first days procedures at the Meet Your Teacher events.

 How will the school district keep students safe and healthy on school buses?

  • Sanitization after each route.
  • Open windows, more ventilation.
  • Spaced seating, as allowable.
  • Encouraging parents to transport children to school if they would like.

 Will schools be screening temperatures of students, faculty, staff, and/or visitors?

  • No, schools will not be conducting temperature screenings.
  • Clinics will be supplied with the ability to check temperatures.
  • Students, staff, and visitors will not face mandatory screening to enter.

 Will sick children be sent home?

  • Yes, and not permitted to return until cleared with a doctor’s note.

 What happens if a child or adult in my child’s school tests positive for COVID?   Will parents be notified?

  • Contact tracing and notification protocols will be determined and followed by the Department of Health.
  • The Suwannee County School District is not responsible for contact tracing or notification.

 When will my child be sent home?

  • Standard protocols for students that are fevered or ill will be followed.
  • SCSD’s Health Services Plan is available on the District’s website.

 Will students or staff be required to be tested for COVID?

  • SCSD will not be conducting or requiring testing for COVID.
  • The Department of Health may ask individuals to be tested.
  • If any individual (students or staff) tests positive for COVID, the individual will need to supply the district with doctor’s note clearing them to return to school or work.

 How will students, faculty, and staff be able to socially distance themselves from others?

  • Social distancing will be encouraged to the greatest extent possible.

 How will the district handle class changes when multiple classes are interacting in the hallways at school?

  • School administration will be encouraging students to move directly to their next class and not congregate or socialize in the hallways in large groups. 
  • Movement patterns around campuses are being evaluated and adjusted to ensure that the most possible space is allowed between students.
  • Staggered release times may be implemented at some schools when possible.

 Will there be a hand-washing protocol?

  • Frequent hand-washing will be encouraged.
  • Custodial staff will ensure that restrooms have plenty of supplies (soap, paper towels, etc).
  • Teachers and adult staff will give verbal reminders to students.
  • Posters will be placed around campus to remind students how to properly wash their hands. 

How will social distancing be encouraged during lunch, physical education, and recess?

  • Faculty and staff will continue to encourage students to observe an appropriate social distance from others.
  • Posters/signs will also remind students to keep an appropriate distance from others.

 What if my child has health issues, and I’m not comfortable with them returning at this time?

  • There are several options available for distance learning and home education in Suwannee County.

Can a parent choose to continue distance learning if desired?  What are the options available?

  • There are four options that the district is offering for the return to school on August 10, 2020.
    • Traditional Return – Traditional face-to-face school, 5 days per week
    • Temporary HYBRID Return – Distance Learning with Learning Coach Support
    • Suwannee Virtual School – 100% Online Option
    • Home Education
    • The details of the four options are posted on the SCSD Reopening Website.
    • Parents are asked to fill out an online intent to return to allow the district to plan for their option choice.

 What precautions will be taken by the District food service staff?

  • Sharing food will not be permitted.
  • Face shields will be worn by food service employees.
  • Food will be pre-packaged to the extent possible to limit exposure.

 Who will be doing the constant cleaning that will need to be done?

  • Additional custodial staff will be employed to provide for ongoing sanitization and wiping of touch surfaces in the schools.

 What about children who have known or unknown medical conditions who could become severally ill from COVID?

  • Parents should choose the most appropriate return to school option for their children, in consultation with their child’s physician.
  • There are multiple options for parents to choose from that include full-time distance learning, if needed.

 Will there be clear guidelines for outside activities, clubs, and sports?

  • The SCSD plans to operate with as much normalcy permitted considering guidelines at any given time.

What school-level health services are available?

  • We are very fortunate to have a nurse available at every school location.
  • We have been assigned a Florida Department of Health School Health Specialist that will coordinate with the school district’s Coordinator of Health Services and school nurses. 

What will the school do about sick students on campus prior to parents arrival?

  • Students identified as needing to go home will be isolated from others while awaiting parent pick up.

 Will classroom volunteers and visitors be prohibited?

  • Visitors must have a prescheduled appointment.
  • Volunteers will be screened and approved by the school principal on an as needed basis.

 Will students be given more excused sick days this year?

  • Sick days are unlimited for all students as long as the absences are covered by a doctor’s note.

 Will there be changes in school start times and scheduling?

  • There are some changes related to school start time and scheduling in the district.  These changes are not COVID related, but they were previously planned changes. 

How will students be prepared for extended absences or an unexpected closure? 

  • All courses K-12 will be supplied with a digital curriculum safety net course.  In the event that a student has to stay home, the teacher will be able to give students online assignments to take the place of what will be done in the classroom. 

How will services be provided for students with disabilities?

  • The same level of services should be expected in any of the three district provided options for return.
  • Specific needs should be addressed with your child’s teachers and/or guidance counselor.

 How do I know that my child is on track and making progress in their learning?

  • Progress monitoring assessments will be required of all students in the three district enrollment options. 
  • We recognize the need for parents and teachers to be able to have assurances related to student growth in all models.

 Will there be state testing in 2021?

  • At this time, the Florida Department of Education has indicated that there will be state assessments this year.  

What are we going to do to fill the academic gaps for children from missing school last year?

  • There are a few summer recovery options that will be available to students.  For students in grades K-5, a new online program will be available soon for parents to use with them at home to remediate and review last year’s concepts.
  • Also, it is important to keep in mind that ALL students missed portions of last year.  Teachers of the next grade level/course are fully aware and prepared to review and begin their instruction at the appropriate level for incoming students.

Are there changes in Dual Enrollment requirement?

  • There have been changes in the testing requirements expected by the local colleges.  If you are interested in having your child participate in Dual Enrollment, the best contact is your school’s guidance department.

Will parents be able to keep kids home without the fear of truancy?

  • The traditional return option will require regular school attendance.  If parents are planning to keep students home without a doctor’s note, they will want to consider one of the distance learning options.

 Why are we not going 100% online?

  • Online education is not beneficial to every student. 
  • There are two online options available for parents to choose from for their children.

 What about the industry certification that my child was supposed to have an opportunity to earn in their class last year?

  • We have received guidance that some industry certification assessments can be offered this year, if possible.
  • If you are interested in the opportunity to have your child take an industry certification assessment, please communicate this to the school guidance counselor for more information.

 

What guidance and documents are school officials relying on to make decisions regarding COVID?

  • The Superintendent, School Board, and School Administration are constantly receiving guidance from a wide variety of sources.
  • Professional organizations such as the Florida Association of District School Superintenents, Florida School Boards Association, and the Florida Association of School Administrators are just three examples of organizations that lend support, statistics, and guidance.
  • The Florida Department of Education’s website has a COVID response website that regularly posts updates and guidance for school districts. 

What can parents do to help support students, teachers, and schools at this time?

  • Ensure each child has their own supplies.
  • Talk to your child about good habits – hand washing, social distancing, etc.
  • Do NOT send kids to school when sick – keep them home from school and take them to the doctor. 

Will students still be changing classes?

  • We are not self-containing classrooms at this time.  Any class that previously changed classes will continue to change classes.  Staggered release times may be implemented on some campuses where possible. 

Why is face-to-face learning needed?

  • Distance learning is not a successful method for every child.
  • The state has mandated that all districts offer a 5-day, face to face option for parents.
  • Schools provide many additional services, not just academics. 

Is the district just trying to get kids back to make money?

  • It’s probably common knowledge that a school district’s funding is directly related to the number of students enrolled and attending classes.
  • The Florida Department of Education has made a waiver available to hold the Suwannee County School District harmless in lost revenue due to students that do not return due to COVID – in other words, we have no financial reason to encourage school attendance.
  • The desire to have students return is based on a true desire to provide for a successfully educated student population, which in turn benefits the entire community.  We realize that the backbone of strong community is its education system.  The SCSD wants to do our part to make Suwannee County a great place to live and work for years to come.  We know that we can best do that by providing a quality education to ALL students.

 When should I keep my child at home?

  • Parents should keep sick children home, even if they know that the child is not COVID positive.  As always, a child should be fever free for 24 hours before returning to school.

How are they doing teacher meet day?

  • Information regarding Meet Your Teacher has been put on the district website.

 Will my child be required to get the vaccine when it is released?

  • It may be too early to know if this will be a local decision, however at this time the Superintendent has indicated that he is not in favor of a mandatory COVID vaccine.

 Students with elderly parents, being raised by grandparents…keeping them safe.

  • Data has indicated that students are the least likely population to transmit the virus to other children or adults.
  • The decision to return to face-to-face instruction will be made by the parent.  In the event that the family does not feel that they can safely have the student attend, there are alternative options.

Why were we closed when Suwannee had fewer cases, but we are opening now?

  • Had the closure in March been a local decision, the SCSD would not have closed in March.  That decision was made at the state level based on state data.

 

Will there be any exceptions for major testing for 2021 graduates, FSA, ACT, SAT?

  • Allowances for state testing were given last year.  At this time there has been NO indication that the same allowances will be made this year.  We will keep parents and students updated in the event of changes in testing.

What about the sanitization of library books and materials?

  • Large, common spaces such as libraries, cafeterias, and locker rooms will have different cleaning protocols.  The district has purchased sanitization sprayers/foggers to properly sanitize these areas.  The sanitization will take place on a regular basis.

 Will there be an ability to have courses with labs?

  • Sharing of equipment and materials among students will be reduced as much as possible, however we still need to accomplish the goals of the course.
  • Teachers will be taking all appropriate precautions when asking students to share materials that cannot be individually provided.

Will students be allowed to take book bags?

  • Yes, students will be allowed to carry book bags and backpacks.

 What if I don’t have internet access at home? 

  • Distance education greatly depends upon digital curriculum and the ability to access online content.  In the event that a family cannot access the internet, please make the school administration aware.  There may be alternate ways for students to access the necessary curriculum.
  • Local public access points are available in the Live Oak and Branford areas.
  • School WIFI is available in all school parking lots.

Will district staff be trained in sanitization procedures and proper protocols for avoiding transmission of viruses? 

  • A training is being developed for district employees.  The training will be delivered during week prior to students returning. 

 What will you do to ease the anxiety of children that are afraid to return?

  • School counselors should be made aware of any concerns that you have regarding your child’s anxiety about returning to school.  They will help with this issue.

July 14, 2020 - Superintendent's Presentation to Suwannee County School Board

July 14, 2020 - Suwannee County School Board Workshop

Reopening Plan Explained at SCSB Workshop

The Suwannee County School Board was updated on the Superintendent's plan for reopening the Suwannee County School District on Tuesday during a face-to-face School Board workshop.  Mr. Roush's update explains how the District is planning to keep everyone safe and the environment sanitized for a healthy start of school on August 10, 2020. 

The detailed plan is broken into six comprehensive pieces that describe District protocols and procedures protecting students, faculty, and staff.  

  • Safe Transportation
  • Safe Arrival on Campus
  • Safe Movement Around Campus
  • Safe Utilization of Classroom Space
  • Safely Participating in Extracurricular Activities
  • Safely Leaving Campus
The full presentation is available at the link below.

Reopening Includes NEW Hybrid Learning Option

During the past week, a survey was requested of parents of SCSD students.  Parents were asked to let the District know their thoughts and concerns related to coming back to school in August.  Over 1000 SCSD parents responded to the request for feedback.  Overall, the vast majority of parents are confident in the ability of the District to keep students and staff safe while at school.  Many parents thanked the school system for planning to reopen on schedule with a face-to-face option that is not being provided everywhere in Florida.  The Suwannee County School District recognizes that a school's role is far greater than academics.  Communities across our state depend upon the public schools to provide a wide variety of services from academics to nutrition and most recently even mental health counseling.

Although the majority are anticipating their return to traditional classroom learning, there is a need for flexibility.  An Executive Order issued by the Florida Commissioner of Education, Richard Corcoran, on July 6, 2020 has given the District the ability to offer that flexibility for fall semester.  For the 2020-2021 school year there will be a HYBRID return option that will allow for students to transition back to traditional school, if needed. 

At the July 14 School Board Workshop, a plan was introduced to school board members explaining what the HYBRID return entails.  A survey will be opening up on July 15 for parents to indicate their preferred method of education for their children.

When school starts in August, there will be four models for parents to consider:

  • Traditional Public Education - 5 days per week - face to face - "regular school"
  • Temporary HYBRID Learning Model - 1 day per week consultation at the school site - digital curriculum supported by parents and an assigned Learning Coach
  • Suwannee Virtual School - same virtual school model that has been offered for the past several years in Suwannee County
  • Home Education - same program that has been available - parents control content and supply materials - only requirement is annual evaluation per Florida Statute.

More details regarding the four options are available in the Suwannee Opening Options flyer below. 

Parents are being asked to select one of the four options now so that scheduling and planning can take place, as soon as possible. 

The survey will be open on Wednesday, July 15, 2020.  A date will be set for the close of the survey, that information is coming soon.

School Board Members Respond to Reopening Plans

A message from your Board Chair:

To all of our students, parents and faculty,
Your Suwannee County School Board realizes the challenges, concerns and fears that have come out of the months' long battle with Covid-19. Your school district was able to meet a big part of that challenge by finding a suitable solution for completing the school year culminating with successful graduations for Suwannee and Branford High.

Now it is time to continue to move forward. A tremendous amount of forethought and planning has gone into the re-opening of our schools with the number one priority being the safety of our students and staff. A four-pronged plan has been created that we feel should meet the needs of all of our families served through the SCSD. Please take your time to read through all of this information and ask any questions you may have. These are most definitely unsure times with often more questions than answers. However, there is one thing that you CAN be sure of.....the SCSD loves our students and our staff and that we will do all we can to maintain safety while providing the best education to the best students by the best faculty in the State.

Sincerely,
Ed daSilva
Chairman, Suwannee County School Board

I have 11 grandchildren that attend public school in Suwannee County.  There is at least one in almost every school.  My grandchildren will be returning to face-to-face instruction under the tradtional model.  If that doesn't demonstrate my faith in our Suwannee County School District's ability to keep students and staff safe, I don't know what does.

Tim Alcorn, Vice-Chair Suwannee County School Board

We're prepared and ready to begin school on August 10th and I believe that you and your children are also.  You may be assured that the health and safety of your children and our staff is our paramount concern.  We are doing everything humanly possible to ensure that the cleaning and sanitation needs in our schools, classrooms, cafeterias, and buses are met in a consistent and diligent manner.  Please continue to visit our District website for additional information and to see the school choice options that you and your child may select.  

Jerry Taylor, Suwannee County School Board

July 15, 2020 - Sanitization Protocol - Transportation

July 10, 2020 Science News Article

Children rarely transmit COVID-19, doctors write in new commentary

Taken from an article published in Science News based on a study conducted by the University of Vermont, published on July 10, 2020.

In a French study, a boy with Covid-19 exposed over 80 classmates at three schools to the disease. None contracted it. Transmission of other respiratory diseases, including influenza transmission, was common at the schools.

In a study in New South Wales, nine infected students and nine staff across 15 schools exposed a total of 735 students and 128 staff to Covid-19. Only two secondary infections resulted, one transmitted by an adult to a child.

"The data are striking," said Dr. Raszka. "The key takeaway is that children are not driving the pandemic. After six months, we have a wealth of accumulating data showing that children are less likely to become infected and seem less infectious; it is congregating adults who aren't following safety protocols who are responsible for driving the upward curve."

June 15, 2020 - Back to School Bulletin