BY MARCY SHORTUSE- Just as school preparations were beginning for students and parents, several area school districts have decided to push the start date for classes back to August 31.
Charlotte, Sarasota and Desoto Counties had already made the decision before this week, but the Lee County School District held their meeting on Thursday, July 23. They, too, determined the school start date for all Lee County schools would be pushed back from August 10 to August 31.
There was only one speaker from the public and a handful of emails to the district regarding the start date. Most were in favor of pushing the start date back.
Superintendent of Lee County Schools Dr. Gregory Adkins said he suggested the date for the beginning of school be pushed back to August 31, looking at the health matrix and the school system’s current level of preparation.
Several school board members had questions as to how the amended school calendar would work. One asked if a pushed-back start date would create an interruption in teacher pay; Dr. Adkins replied there would be no disruption, as the teachers would working during the second half of August to get classrooms ready. New safety and hygiene protocols have to be adhered to, and all venues of learning – brick-and-mortar, virtual and distance – are still being fine-tuned, which will give teachers plenty of work to do.
The question was also asked as to why the school days missed at the beginning of August would be added to the end of the year, instead of spreading them out by taking away traditional holiday vacation days. As it stands, all teacher duty days (teacher work days that are scheduled to extend holidays for students, particularly needed just prior to grading periods) have been pushed to the front of the school year. Thanksgiving and winter break remain intact, to allow students and faculty time off to de-stress from these unusual circumstances.
Charlotte, Sarasota and Desoto Counties are not adding days to the end of the school year.
Lee County is offering several methods of learning for students returning to classrooms in the fall, including a full return, distance learning with their regular teacher, and virtual learning.
Charlotte County is not offering a distance learning option. Instead, the school board has suggested students could switch to Charlotte Virtual schooling, or they can home school on their own, if they do not wish to return to the brick-and-mortar classroom.