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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

After a nine-hour meeting, Orange County School Board tables vote on school reopening until Friday morning

Posted By on Tue, Jul 14, 2020 at 11:10 PM

click to enlarge Orange County School Board Chair Teresa Jacobs on Tuesday - SCREENSHOT VIA ORANGE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS/YOUTUBE
  • Screenshot via Orange County Public Schools/YouTube
  • Orange County School Board Chair Teresa Jacobs on Tuesday

The Orange County Public School Board met for a marathon nine-hour session on Tuesday to decide on a reopening model for public schools in the county, and a last-minute proposal to move back the first day of school from Aug. 10 to Aug. 21.

No votes or decisions ultimately came out the meeting on these two key issues. The School Board voted to table the meeting at around 9:30 p.m. (with some technical issues hampering proceedings) and to reconvene on Friday morning at 9 a.m. to further debate these two reopening issues and make their final determinations.

Throughout nearly seven hours of public comment during the meeting, by phone and in person, speakers were passionate on the subject of reopening safely, with a number of OCPS teachers and concerned parents and citizens presenting their cases eloquently, emotionally and, at times, heatedly, in a clear sign of just how high the stakes are on these decisions.

Under consideration during this meeting were three possible models for reopening schools in Orange County: face-to-face, virtual, and "innovative learning."

Face-to-face would be an attempt at a full return, with classes in person five days a week, but with new social distancing, hygiene and mask-wearing rules. The virtual option would be for students to enroll in the Orange County Virtual School and take classes through their interface. The final option is dubbed innovative learning. In this model, also known as [email protected]@Home, the school day would be livestreamed and scheduled similarly to in-person classes. The teacher would instruct from a classroom with students viewing and learning at home, and students would remain enrolled at their respective schools. There is also an option to have some students attending their classes in-person as part of this model.

click to enlarge The Orange County School Board meeting on Tuesday - SCREENSHOT VIA ORANGE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS/YOUTUBE
  • Screenshot via Orange County Public Schools/YouTube
  • The Orange County School Board meeting on Tuesday
Though many board members seemed to be leaning away from straight face-to-face instruction and reacting more favorably toward the hybrid innovative learning and virtual models, we'll have to wait until Friday to see how the school year will play out in Orange County.

The archived video of this meeting can be viewed on the OCPS YouTube Channel. The minutes and agenda from this meeting will be made available here. And finally, the School Board schedule for the rest of the year can be viewed here.

Meanwhile, over in Seminole County, the School Board voted 4-1 to reopen with both in-person and online options, and the school year will be pushed back to a start date of Aug. 17. Also on Tuesday evening, the Osceola County School Board voted to push back the start of the school year to Aug. 24.

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