BY: ANDREW COLTON | Editor and Publisher
UPDATE: 8:29 p.m. Friday: There is a new story with updated information. Read it, here.
UPDATE at 1:51PM — The school district is now sending emails regarding the mandatory choice. Please see text at the end of this report.
BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — The Palm Beach County School District either doesn’t know, or isn’t saying, if teacher changes should be expected once parents lock-in a long term choice for “in person” or “distance learning.” BocaNewsNow.com has queried multiple school district officials. The simple answer: no one has an answer on the record.
“It’s a work in progress,” said one person familiar with the matter. “It’s a chicken and egg sort of thing. They’re waiting to see what parents choose. But parents aren’t choosing until they see what the school district is going to do.”
The troubling lack of information comes as students are now seeing another “tile” on their school district computer dashboards. The “tile” — or large button — leads to a binding survey that parents must complete by October 15th. It requires parents and guardians to decide whether their children will remain home through after winter break in January, or if they are committing to returning to school through mid-January. Another choice will be made in January — it will be binding until the end of the school year.
Spokeswoman Claudia Shea didn’t respond to specific questions about online versus in-person teacher staffing it told BocaNewsNow.com that waivers will be available, in some circumstances, for parents who want to make a change after locking in a decision.
Parents contacting BocaNewsNow.com are angry, perplexed, confused and some scared.
“We have no idea what this means for teachers,” said one mother. “If we choose in-person, or distance, do we end up with a new teacher? No one is telling us anything.”
Wrote a parent to BocaNewsNow.com, “How can parents make a permanent decision with 165 new cases (in the county) every day? Parents have a right to see if there are any outbreaks in the schools and act according. The school board needs to come up with a plan to allocate staff properly with some built-in flexibility for changes.”
The Palm Beach County School District, as recently as two weeks ago, said parents would be able to change from distance to in-person to distance learning with at most a week’s notice. That was rescinded when principals complained that they needed more time to recreate classroom layouts to comply with social distancing. Teachers were also complaining that they found it difficult to teach to students at home — and in school — simultaneously. Many teachers, however, are finding it to be no problem.
The school system, the School Board and Superintendent Dr. Donald Fennoy remain under fire from parents and teachers who say their planning and communication couldn’t be worse. Fennoy remains a target of the teacher’s union which says he reneged on a promise to let high-risk (for COVID-19) teachers teach from home. The association of principals also blasted administrators for a lack of planning.
The Palm Beach County School District panned to send an email to all parents on Friday announcing the choice requirement. It was not immediately clear if the news surrounding President Trump’s COVID-19 infection will result in a delay for optics reasons.
EMAIL CALENDAR ITEMS BEING SENT TO PARENTS:
First Semester Action and Timeline:
Monday, October 5, 2020
First Semester final selection date window opens for Parent/Student decisions about their desired learning platform. The window opens for switching from Virtual to Brick and Mortar or Brick and Mortar to Virtual. Parents will need to go back to the Make Your Choice tile in the student portal to change the desired learning platform and register for bus transportation if needed.
Wednesday, October 14, 2020
First Semester final selection date window closes for Parent/Student decisions about their desired learning platform.
Wednesday, November 4, 2020
Parent/Student desired learning platform is implemented and selected choice begins. No further changes for First Semester.
Second Semester Action and Timeline:
Monday, January 4, 2021
Second Semester final selection date window opens for Parent/Student decisions about their desired learning platform. The window opens for switching from Virtual to Brick and Mortar or Brick and Mortar to Virtual for the rest of the school year. Parents will need to go back to the Make Your Choice tile in the student portal to change the desired learning platform and register for bus transportation if needed.
Monday, January 11, 2021
Second Semester final selection date window closes for Parent/Student decisions about their desired learning platform.
Tuesday, February 2, 2021
Parent/Student desired learning platform is implemented and selected choice begins for the remainder of the year. No further changes for the Second Semester.
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