The Sarasota County School District is making sure every student can continue their education, whether in school, or at home, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
The district sent out a “mobile needs survey” Wednesday night, asking parents in the unlikely event of a public school closure, would they need to borrow a laptop and or internet hot spot?
The survey can be accessed on the district website at sarasotacountyschools.net/ deviceneedssurvey or by calling the Information Technology department at 941-927-9000, ext. 31350.
The district is asking parents to fill out the survey as soon as possible, so the district can continue to provide instruction virtually, if school closures should occur.
“While school closure is not eminent, there is a possibility that this may occur at one, some, or all of our schools in the future,” said school board member Bridget Ziegler.
“Having a pulse on how we can best support all of our families to ensure the least amount of disruption to our students’ education, while keeping our students and staff safe is our focus,” she added.
Parents on social media had mixed reactions about the possibility of school closures.
Some parents applauded the district for being proactive regarding the pandemic. However, some parents expressed concerns about taking time off work and having to care for their children.
Tara Gronsky, a South County resident and mom of three, said, “My 12 and 17-year-old have underlying medical conditions. I wanted them to stay home, but with the pressure of the end of grading period they were worried about missing tests and receiving failing grades.”
She added that following spring break, she plans to enroll her kids in Florida Virtual School, if the district remains open. However, she’s hoping the district will decide to transition to online school.
Gronsky said her son, who is a senior, has community service requirements for graduation and to be eligible for Bright Futures Scholarship.
“I am not comfortable with him going out for community service and handling books that have been all over the community at our local library,” she said.
“How will the state/county address this issue? How our children should be exempt from participating in Community Service hours. This shouldn’t be held against them. My son has close to 70 hours. Will he not meet the requirements for a scholarship due to a pandemic? We need answers,” Gronsky said.
Ambree Barrett, of North Port, said her 11-year-old has cystic fibrosis, and therefore a weakened immune system.
Barrett and her family were living on the water in Sarasota when red tide was affecting the area.
As a result, her daughter’s lung function decreased to 42% with pseudomonas and MRSA, an infection caused by a staph bacteria in her lungs.
The family moved to North Port as a result, to take care of her health.
“Her lung function improved tremendously. We just got her healthy and I will do anything to protect that,” Barrett said.
She has been keeping her daughter at home for the past two weeks, since news broke that two Sarasota County students were kept from school due to possible exposure to COVID-19 per the Department of Health.
“There is no chance too small that I would be willing to risk for the sake of my child,” Barrett said.
Spring break in Sarasota County begins today, although students were off Thursday for an in-service day. The district is encouraging families to review guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if they are planning to travel.
The district sent out a press release stating custodial staff will continue to deep clean and disinfect schools over break.