LEE COUNTY — The school year will be starting again Tuesday for many students in Lee County, but when they get back from winter break, they’re going to find some new classmates.
That’s because thousands of students are transferring back to in-person education.
We talked to Bethany Bauer, who has several children at Cape Elementary. They were doing Lee Home Connect for months, but she said, it just wasn’t working.
“There are some kids who can handle large amounts of screen time. My kids have never been those kids. Ever," said Bauer.
Bauer’s children will be part of the around 6,500 students returning to in-person school over the next month. Lee Home Connect students transferring back will start on January 11th, and Lee Virtual students will come back on February 1st. There will also be about 260 teachers coming back to provide in-person instruction.
The school system is now working to accommodate all of them.
"As more students come back, those desks get closer, but they’re going to be as far apart as they can in every classroom," said Lee Schools Assistant Communications Director Rob Spicker.
But more students, and more teachers, means more opportunity for COVID-19 transmission. Bauer said it’s on her mind every day, because she already had the disease once.
"I’m concerned about getting COVID again, particularly because of the long term effects. I’m worried about the kids getting it, even if they get it mildly, because we don’t know what the long term effects can be," said Bauer.
Spicker said the District is trying to reassure parents like Bauer that the school is actually one of the safer places kids can be.
"Our transmissions on-campus have been very minimal according to the Health Department, which tells us that the protocols we put in place have worked," said Spicker.
Bauer said, this next month will be a tryout for her kids. She hopes it goes well, but she’s also prepared to find another solution.
"I don’t know going forward. We may make yet another change depending on the circumstances in the upcoming months," said Bauer.
Spicker said, if you still have your children enrolled in virtual school, it may not be too late if you want to send them back in-person. If that’s something you’re still considering, you should contact your child’s school.