Charter Schools USA
One of the largest public charter school operators in Florida has revisited a decision to open its brick-and-mortar locations for the coming school year, citing concerns over a spike in COVID positivity in some counties it serves.
Charter Schools USA, which operates 92 schools in five states, had informed families it would physically open all 14 of its South Florida schools. Last week, officials announced that the Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade County campuses would offer a “fully mobile classroom experience” instead.
Those schools will equip classrooms with voice-activated camera technology that will follow teachers around empty classrooms. Students will have a full view of the room as well as any materials a teacher wants them to see.
Officials say they will keep a close eye on COVID data and will have all 18,000 Charter Schools USA students back to in-person education as soon as possible. Teachers with health and safety concerns who are still hesitant to return to the classroom will have the option of teaching remotely.
In the meantime, the two CSUSA schools in St. Lucie County will offer three options: in-person instruction, fully mobile classrooms and a combination of in-person and mobile learning.
Back to school: Several Bay County schools are now scheduled to reopen Nov. 5, according to district officials. All district schools have been closed since Hurricane Michael made landfall in the county Oct. 10. At least one will operate under a split schedule and two others will include students displaced from other schools. The rest of the schools are expected to open no later than the week of Nov. 12. Superintendent Bill Husfelt says district officials are working with the Florida Department of Education on an adjusted schedule for the rest of the school year that they hope to announce this week. WMBB. WJHG. Jackson County students return to school today. Tallahassee Democrat. Donations are pouring in for Bay County students. Panama City News Herald. Arnold High School will be used as a long-term shelter for displaced Bay County residents. Panama City News Herald. A private school in Bay County, Holy Nativity Episcopal School, resumes classes today. Panama City News Herald. Students from counties affected by the hurricane who started attending schools in nearby counties will have to return to their schools when they reopen unless they had a “complete family move.” WTXL. The Indian River County and Charlotte County school districts donate books and other school supplies to Panhandle schools affected by the hurricane. WPTV. Charlotte Sun.
Teachers trying to recover: Like students, teachers in the Florida Panhandle are struggling to regain a sense of normalcy after the devastation caused by Hurricane Michael. “I don’t have a home, so how can I be effective at my work when I can’t shower or cook food?” asks Denise Hinson, who teaches 7th-graders language arts at New Horizons Learning Center. “Maybe I will live at the school? I don’t have anything else to do.” Bay County School District spokeswoman Sharon Michalik says the district is meeting with community leaders to find housing options for teachers. “We have a delicate balance between the humanitarian needs and the need to open schools in order to show our community that normal will exist again,” she says. “We have teachers who have lost everything and they are camping out in their classrooms. We’ll have to find them somewhere else to live.” Associated Press.
JACKSONVILLE – Dana Roberts had high hopes for her 5-year-old son, DJ, as she readied him for his first day of pre-school.
Remembering her own pleasant school experience, she expected her bright, inquisitive little boy soon would be challenged by caring educators who would coax away his shyness and address his difficulty sounding out letters and grasping a pencil.
She trusted that once he settled among children his age, he would begin to forget the taunts and bullying he suffered from teenagers at the family’s apartment complex.
Instead, she found DJ’s teacher overwhelmed and too busy with other students to pay attention to him. The teacher told her DJ’s never-ending questions – Why do fuses blow? Why do eggs change color when they’re cooked? – were a distraction to his classmates.
Based on the scant morsels DJ shared with her at the end of each long day, she worried he was withdrawing further into his shell.
Then the principal suggested she send DJ to a private school where he could receive more individual attention. Dana was crushed.
“When I was in school, teachers worked hard to make a difference in the lives of children, preparing them for their future,” she said. “That’s what I wanted for DJ.”
JACKSONVILLE – The rock seemed to come out of nowhere, startling the boys walking home from school in the calm of an October afternoon. It hurtled inches from Michael Palmertree’s shoulder, hitting his friend, who fell unconscious with a wound to his head.
Michael checked to make sure his younger brother, Johnathan, was unharmed. Then he reached for the cell phone his mom had given him for emergencies and called 911.
It didn’t occur to Michael as an ambulance arrived that the rock had been intended for him or Johnathan, but his mother knew better. Tammy Alam had been worried since the start of the 2016 school year that they had been targeted by bullies. That’s when she enrolled her boys at their district school after relocating the family from Maine.
At first, she told herself it was because they were new to the school. She encouraged them to ignore the taunts and name-calling. But as the bullying escalated – tripping and shoving in the hallways, ripped backpacks – Tammy became convinced the abuse against 11-year-old Michael, who is part white and part African-American, and 7-year-old Johnathan, who is part white and part Asian, was racially motivated.
On the afternoon of the rock throwing, Tammy realized further discussion with school personnel was useless. She considered homeschooling, but as a single mom working full time, she worried she wouldn’t have enough time. Then she remembered the school three miles from the family’s apartment, which she drove past every day.