COLLIER COUNTY, FLA — As of now Collier County public schools (CCPS) will be open next month, though the start date will be a little different.
The school board voted Tuesday to push the start of school back one week, from August 12 to August 19, to help the district fully prepare.
But that decision came after the board sat through an hour and half of public feedback, mostly calling for them to halt their reopening plans.
"Please delay the opening of schools due to the increasing spread of coronavirus," said one woman.
"Will I get hazard work environment pay?" said a CCPS teacher.
"This moment, this pandemic is dangerous to all stake holders," said one man.
The district says they're going ahead with the plan to reopen schools, because legally they have to. They cited Emergency Order 2020-EO-06 from the state department of education, which says they have to open schools next month, including physical school buildings.
The district plans to make things as safe as possible.
"Our overall goal is to reduce exposure as much as possible with the idea that we want to mitigate, because we know that we can't eliminate all risk," said CCPS Superintendent Kamela Patton.
Here are some ways that they are working to make reopening as safe as possible:
- CCPS is offering home school and two virtual school options, in addition to in class instruction
- increased cleaning of school buildings, property
- More hand washing stations and hand washing time built into school day schedule
- No shared instructional items among students
- No field trips for first semester (plans are pending for second semester)
- Decreased access to typically crowded areas on campus (i.e. lunch rooms, courtyards, etc)
- All meals will be eaten in classrooms
- Mandatory PPE (protective goggles and masks) will be handed out to students and staff. They are required to be worn at all times while on school property and buses. No medical exemptions will be provided for wearing them.
- Students, staff displaying symptoms will be placed in "isolation rooms," while proper groups are alerted.
"Is it ideal, absolutely not, my two high school daughters are going to be mortified," said CCPS school board member, Jen Mitchell.
Mitchell adds that they're open to feedback, but recognize that not everyone will like what they put out.
"Parents, I would just say that I am asking you to please understand that we hate that we're even having this discussion and we know that it's not gonna make everybody happy," said Mitchell.
The board will be formally announcing full plan details soon.
It was also mentioned in tonight's meeting that several districts in "hot spot" counties (like Broward county) are currently able to avoid the state's requirement of opening brick and mortar schools because they're currently in a lower reopening phase than the rest of the state.