Who is making the decisions about reopening schools? What is the role and authority of each?
The local Manatee School District Board and Superintendent and her staff are under the authority of the Florida Department of Education, headed by the Commissioner of Education who sits on the Governor’s cabinet. The Department of Education issued Executive Order 2020EO 06 (http://www.fldoe.org/core/fileparse.php/19861/urlt/DOE-2020-EO-06.pdf) directing all public schools (traditional and charter) to reopen in August for five days a week for students to attend inside the school buildings. School districts that do not physically open schools by August 31 will not receive funding from the state.
The Executive Order indicates the reopening is subject to the advice and orders of the Florida Department of Health, local departments of health, Executive Order 20-149 (https://www.flgov.com/wp-content/uploads/orders/2020/EO_20-149.pdf) and subsequent executive orders. The Manatee County Department of Health is under the authority of the Florida Department of Health. The Florida Department of Health is supervised by the Florida Surgeon General. The Surgeon General is appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Florida Senate.
Ultimately, the Governor is directing the opening criteria.
In order to receive funding from the State of Florida, the Manatee School District must comply with Executive Order 2020EO 06. To that end Superintendent Saunders and her staff have been in daily contact with the Manatee Health Department. The Health Department has offered advice and information to assist in the formation of the reopening plan for Manatee’s public schools. If the local health department were to advise closing a school or schools, the School Board would be the decision maker to determine if this would happen.
What does reopening public schools in Manatee County look like at this point? https://www.manateeschools.net/cms/lib/FL02202357/Centricity/Domain/4691/ReturnSchool2020_Flyer_ENG.pdf
The date for students to return to schooling has been delayed until August 17. This date still allows for the required 180 days of instruction without extending the school year. Teachers will return to their positions on August 5.
Parents and students are given three options for participating in teaching and learning in the reopening plan.
Option A: Return to school full time and follow the schedule provided.
Option B: Participate in a hybrid model by attending two days assigned by the school and learning from home via a classroom camera the other three days, following the same schedule as Option A. The teacher will provide instruction from a fixed camera within the classroom so the student must attend on line when the class is scheduled. This is synchronous learning. Schools will assign the days students choosing the hybrid option will attend with the goal of 50% of the student population on campus on any given day.
Option C: Participate in on line learning using an asynchronous mode as scheduled by the school and its teachers assigned to instruct on line. This will be similar but better than the experience of full time on line learning in the spring forced due to closing in response to the pandemic. Teachers and staff have spent a great deal of time over the summer, improving this as an option.
The school district has asked that parents let their child’s school know by July 23 what choice they have made. If the family’s choice has not been received, the school personnel will contact the parents. At the end of each quarter, parents may choose a different option.
Everyone who comes to the brick and mortar campus must wear a mask at all times unless given a medical excuse by a doctor. In that case they must wear a shield. The schools’ principals and staff are making arrangement for scheduling students, personnel, and facility spaces to accommodate these three options.
Check out the following link for frequently asked questions at the Manatee School District website: