PCPS

Polk County Public Schools’ reopening task force held its second meeting June 17, during which members were instructed to move forward with plans for physically reopening schools and offering virtual enrollment for the 2020-21 school year.

PCPS is planning to reopen schools for traditional, face-to-face instruction in August. The district is also expanding options available through Polk Virtual School for families who prefer their children participate in virtual learning.

Last week, PCPS staff published the results of a survey the district had encouraged parents and community members to take regarding school in the fall. More than 37,000 residents responded, with mixed results reflecting the uncertain path forward.

Regarding the top question on the survey — “How do you feel about students returning to school for the 2020-2021 school year?” — 38 percent of respondents said they would be comfortable with it while 34 percent said they would not be comfortable. Another 18 percent suggested being comfortable with a return to in-person learning at a later day (after Sept. 7) and 10 percent selected “I do not know.”

Results for other questions posed were similarly mixed.

The task force first convened June 11. During that meeting, Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd, Deputy Superintendent John Hill and Acting Chief Academic Officer Michelle Townley encouraged members to suggest additional participants that would represent diverse perspectives and areas of expertise.

Subsequently, the task force announced last week that it had added several new members, including several parents of students within the district.

During the second task force meeting, which took place virtually, Townley provided an overview of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ and Florida Department of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran’s plans for reopening schools at full capacity in the fall.

Two task force subcommittees will be formed to prepare for the 2020-21 school year. The Health & Safety subcommittee will develop protocols to safeguard students and employees, while the Instructional Continuity Plan subcommittee will work to develop a plan for ensuring instruction proceeds with as little disruption as possible if a classroom, grade level or entire school must close as the result of an outbreak.

For more information on the district’s plans, process or the survey results, visit polkschoolsfl.com.