WATCH REPLAY: Brevard County Schools Board Approves Reopening Plan 5-0 to Begin Classes Aug. 17

By  //  July 16, 2020

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Reopening Plan Offers In-Person Traditional Classroom Teaching and an E-Learning Option

ABOVE VIDEO: The Brevard Public School board members held a meeting to discuss measures and guidelines for the upcoming school year. Board members approved a reopening plan 5-0 to begin classes on August 17.

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Brevard County Schools board members approved a reopening plan 5-0 to begin classes on August 17.

During the board’s second meeting that lasted over 11 hours within a week, the board members listened to three hours of passionate prerecorded public comments centered around teacher and student safety, and the appropriate date to reopen schools.

Schools around the state have been mandated by the governor to reopen brick-and-mortar locations this fall.

School Board members discussed the scenario of not returning and the board attorney said it is the school board’s choice, but the governor had already said he would limit funding to school districts that did not open.

The original date to reopen Brevard Schools was August 11, but BPS Superintendent Dr. Mark Mullins requested the date be pushed back to August 17 because the schools needed more time which the board approved.

District Four Brevard Public Schools Board Member Matt Susin offered a second proposal to reopen schools on August 24 by eliminating the early release Fridays from the schedule. He cited that as a former teacher who taught block and e-learning the teachers would need a lot of planning time up front to prepare.

Both proposals will be discussed at the board meeting on Tuesday, July 21.

The reopening plan offers in-person traditional classroom teaching at their respective schools, an E-learning option where a teacher from their school teaches an online version of the in-person option, and Brevard Virtual which is a virtual online school where students would de-commit from their current school and learn completely online.

BREVARD PUBLIC SCHOOLS BOARD MEMBERS: Front Row: Tina Descovich (District 3), Mark Mullins (BPS Superintendent), and Misty Belford (District 1). Back Row: Katye Campbell (District 5), Matt Susin (District 4) and Cheryl McDougall (District 2). (BPS image)

BPS feels that depending on what the health status or job status of a parent is these options will be able to accommodate all their children’s needs while staying socially distant to control the virus.

The bricks and mortar in-person traditional classroom will try and maintain three to six feet of social distance inside the classroom where all the desks are faced one way with limited group work. Playgrounds have been closed and PE will not be dressing out to avoid locker room clustering.

All Middle Schools and High Schools have moved to block scheduling where students take four classes at twice the length completing an entire class in one semester. This reduced class transitions and number of classes that an infected person may spread the virus.

To protect staff, masks are highly recommended and the option was given to schools and teachers that if they wanted to administer temperature checks. Hallways would become one way directional, and mobile food carts will be deployed to reduce clustering in breakfast and lunch lines. Every day each room in a school will be cleaned with a mobile misting machine and wiping and mopping all areas people occupy.

Lots of discussion was focused around employee pay while out on COVID leave, mandating masks, temperature checks, and the return to school date. District Two School Board member Cheryl McDougall led the charge to try and mandate masks for all employees and students.

Much discussion was wrapped around how feasible it was for elementary-aged students, students with disabilities and ADHD students to follow the mandate. The board ultimately decided on strongly recommended because of too many anomalies which would make enforcement difficult.

Superintendent Dr. Mark Mullins felt confident that this will ensure that students and staff will wear masks appropriately and avoid putting extra burden on the staff.

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The discussion to temperature check students was led by Susin who wanted it to be an option for schools and or teachers who may be in the risk class and wanted another layer of protection. He said that with the teaching shortages we needed to give as many options as possible to ensure safety so the schools will have enough teachers to teach.

During the return to school discussions school board members refuted the claim that they were under pressure politically from the governor or a party. Although supportive of the idea to return at a later date there was no discussion on returning after August.

Susin reiterated that students should return because many single parents need their children to return so they can go back to work, that many children most in need are going without food when they are not attending schools, and that the knowledge gap is exceedingly getting larger the longer the students are away.

Many other topics were discussed with the common consensus being that there were many moving parts from federal and state agencies that may change the decisions, but this is the best path moving forward for Brevard as a whole.

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