Englewood Elementary

Beginning July 13, the Sarasota County School District will be operating as “business as usual,” interim superintendent Mitsi Corcoran said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a plan Wednesday afternoon to move the state into phase two of reopening, which will impact the district’s planning, Corcoran added.

Corcoran and assistant superintendent Jody Dumas talked during Tuesday’s school board meeting about the various plans the district is preparing for re-opening schools.

On June 15, campuses will be open for student athletes to do outside conditioning, while tracks, fields and tennis courts will be open to the public.

The board’s attorney Art Hardy developed a release form for families of student athletes to sign, acknowledging COVID-19 is out there, and outlining expectations for students, Corcoran said.

Corcoran added that the district worked with surrounding school districts and athletic directors to develop participation guidelines, which are expected to be released this week.

The transition to full operations is intended to be gradual, Corcoran said.

“When we return July 13, it’s business as usual,” she said.

SCHOOL EMPLOYEES RETURN

On July 13 all staff is expected to return to their worksites, external rentals will be available for summer and day camps, and student athletes may return to train in the indoor weight rooms. Practice for fall sports are anticipated to begin July 27, Corcoran said, and July 29, students will be allowed inside the schools to access gyms and locker rooms.

Dumas explained the district is working on a variety of contingency plans to re-open in August. Of the plans, he said there are two main scenarios: re-opening the schools with enhanced safety measures or re-opening the schools with social distancing.

Enhanced safety measures would mean normal class sizes, the same amount of students on buses, but extra hand washing and wearing of masks, Dumas explained.

Maintaining social distancing is the “more challenging plan,” Dumas said. He added that each school is being calculated to how many people can fit in each classroom, and how many kids will be able to be in each building, if social distancing measures are still being encouraged, come August.

Typically school buses can hold 65 students, Corcoran said. However, if they transition to one student in every other seat, that would be 13 students at a time.

Corcoran was on a phone call with all of the superintendents across the state discussing re-opening.

Some superintendents have decided to have students wear masks, but put one student in each seat. Others talked about taking temperatures before they get on the bus.

“Do we want to stop a school bus on Clark Road for 10 minutes while they’re taking temperatures? It becomes very dangerous,” Corcoran said.

The district has also developed contingency plans, should there be a flare up of coronavirus cases, or if there is an impact at a particular school.

Some districts have opted to do “A” and “B” weeks, where you come to school one week, do distance learning the next week.

“My biggest concern is making sure we have found an accommodation for every one of our elementary students,” Corcoran said. “We want to make sure we’re doing everything we can for our elementary students.”

Corcoran will provide an update on staffing at the next school board workshop, scheduled for 8:30 a.m. June 16.

According to district spokesperson Kelsey Whealy, the district plans to have initial version of the re-opening plans on the website by the end of the week.

Plans are subject to change and based on current guidelines.

“They will surely change between now and the actual start of the school year,” Whealy said.

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