SEBRING — Superintendent Brenda Longshore offered details on the school district’s efforts to close the achievement gap while providing a safe learning environment at Thursday’s town hall meeting at Sebring Middle School.

It was the last of three town hall meetings this week on the district’s reopening plan for the start of the 2020-21 school year on Aug. 11.

The reopening of school campuses will give students a “routine and predictability,” but things will be different when they return in August, Longshore said.

They are planning to have the graduation ceremonies near the end of July, she said, while continuing to monitor the situation and continuing to follow directives from the governor and the Health Department.

The second parent survey showed that 73% are ready for the children to attend school in August, Longshore said.

She advised that students should stay home if they have a fever or a cold.

“This is not the year for perfect attendance,” Longshore said.

Students who ride a school bus will have there temperatures checked before boarding the bus so parents should be with their child. If a student has a temperature of 100.4 or higher they can’t get on the bus, she said.

It is recommended that students wear a mask while on the bus and for class changes at the secondary level, Longshore said. The district is preparing to use more buses so there can be fewer students on a bus.

The water fountains at schools will not be used so students should bring a water bottle and also hand sanitizer, she said.

All staff and students will have their temperatures checked before they enter the campus except for those who already had it checked as a bus rider.

Lunch times will be staggered so there are fewer students in the cafeteria and each school will utilize available space for outdoor picnic tables or other areas for additional spacing.

Longshore noted there have been a few more cases in the last few days and the district will be ready to adjust its plans and follow the governor’s directives.

For elementary and middle school students the district will have three options for students: attend school with face-to-face instruction with a teacher, full-time remote online learning with the same curriculum with a Highlands County teacher or Highlands Virtual School with the Edgenuity curriculum.

Longshore noted that with full-time remote learning, students would be following a daily class schedule for example logging in on their computer for class at 8 a.m. followed by another class, etc. until the end of the school day.

With Highlands Virtual School students can log in anytime and work at their own pace and on their own schedule.

Due to the many course offerings at the high school level there are two district options: face-to-face instruction or Highlands Virtual School.

Starting Monday, parents will have two weeks to complete an intent form to select the learning option for their children.

The district’s Facebook page and website will have information about the intent form, which will close on July 10.

Longshore said all students will have access to Chromebooks (laptop computers).