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Pinellas County leaders hold workshop to discuss upcoming school year and digital learning

Community input wanted
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Posted at 5:44 AM, Jun 16, 2020

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Teachers and leaders from the Pinellas County School District met Tuesday for a workshop to discuss the upcoming year.

At the workshop, they shared new plans for one-on-one student devices, got an update on CARES act funding, talked about a timeline for returning to work and the plan to keep kids safe as they return to the classroom.

Here's some of the changes potentially coming to classrooms starting in August:

  • Sneeze guards made from plexiglass will be installed in more school lobbies.
  • A STRIKE team will be assigned to wiping down high touch surfaces several times throughout the day.
  • Non-essential furniture will be removed from classrooms to allow desks to be spaced further apart.
  • A sick room will be established in each school for students with COVID-19 signs.
  • Cafeterias, gyms and libraries could be used as classroom space.
  • Masks will be highly recommended or even potentially required on school buses.
  • Students may be asked to eat in their classrooms or outside, rather than the shared cafeteria.
  • Pinellas County plans to hand out 500,000 masks to students, teachers and staff.
  • The school district will plan to roll back out digital learning in case of COVID-19 issues at a particular school.
  • Pinellas County leaders plan to purchase more than 40,000 devices like laptops and tablets for students to use at school and at home.

They also discussed some key takeaways from what teachers learned about online classes from this past school year.

District leaders say online classes were overall successful, so much so, that teachers plan to adopt some form of blended instruction when students return to school.

They also learned that some students struggled with computer literacy and had a hard time with typing, sharing documents and organizing files.

Teachers realized that some students who struggled in a classroom environment thrived with online classes, while others who did well in person, had a hard time with digital learning.

Teachers will use this information to make plans for the next school year.

As the district finalizes details, it’s asking for input from students, families, staff and the community by taking an online survey.

Officials say the safety and well-being of students and employees are their highest priority as they work on making protocols for the return to school.

The survey tackles several topics like bus transportation, to how comfortable people are with in-person learning, and what kind of learning best suits each student.

The survey closes on June 21, you can find it here.

Pinellas County school board members plan to vote on July 14th about the changes coming to schools to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.

Pinellas County schools will reopen to students August 12. Hillsborough, Pasco, Polk, Sarasota, Manatee and Hernando students will return to school August 10.