Florida Prep to Begin Distance Learning, Students Currently in 14 Countries Across the Globe
By Space Coast Daily // March 23, 2020
order to close the MELBOURNE BOARDING school came during Spring Break
Staff Remaining on Campus to Care for Students are Following Strict CDC Protocols
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Like many Florida schools, Florida Prep, the Melbourne-based boarding school for boys and girls in grades 5 through 12, will begin Distance Learning on Wednesday, March 25.
However, with many Florida Prep students currently residing in their home countries, on international travel, or placed in school quarantine, the program set-up follows entirely different protocols than those implemented by public schools and challenges faculty and administration striving to ensure that education at the school continues.
“As schools in Florida began closing due to the Coronavirus outbreak Florida Prep was checking the whereabouts of our students,” said Jay Gideon, Florida Prep Dean of Students.
“Not only were many overseas in their home countries; almost 40 percent of the school’s student population are international boarders, the order to close the school came during Spring Break, when vacations were already underway, presenting the school’s administration with a number of challenging situations applicable only to boarding school.”
Gideon said that during the initial part of the planning process the school’s primary discussions focused on the travel plans on file for Florida Prep students so that we could pinpoint exactly where they all were.
“We realized they were in 14 locations across the globe and many were also spending Spring Break with other Florida Prep families in countries aside from those they call home,” said Gideon.
“Our early updates indicated all students on international travel should remain in place, regardless of their location or any outbreak of COVID-19 in their geographic area. It was a tough call because many of the host parents suddenly found themselves responsible for students for far longer than they had anticipated, and the students visiting families overseas realized they would be there for some time. I’m proud to say everyone agreed.”
Florida Prep students still within the USA were given the option to return to school at the completion of Spring Break, on March 22, or to make arrangements to go back home, the majority have returned.
“Fortunately, we have a full-time nurse on staff and she has now placed those students in isolation for 14 days,” said Gideon.
The staff that remains on campus to care for students are also following strict protocols laid out by the CDC and the Florida Department of Health.
“I must stress, they are not attending any in-school classes, and they will participate in the Distance Learning sessions that begin on March 25 from their dorm rooms – at the moment they are all very upbeat,” said Gideon.
“This unique set of circumstances is unprecedented and we are very aware of the heavy burden we carry as we host our students. Not only must we be educators and mentors, but also counselors and stand-in parents. From the outset, we agreed to make this as positive an experience as possible, and we will continue to move forward and to adjust as necessary.”
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