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Friday, July 31, 2020

Greene said she would listen to the medical experts, she is not

Superintendent Greene and the school board have been put in a tough position by the stunning lack of leadership by the mayor and governor. I want to acknowledge that, but that being said the state constitution says they control education in Jacksonville Florida, and in my opinion, their first and highest duty is to keep students and staff safe. Greene has said she would listen to the experts on whether to close the schools or not, well friends plenty of them are screaming at her to do so. 

The Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics released guidance about schools opening.

COVID-19 positivity rates are currently extremely high in Florida with a rolling average of 12% of tests positive for new infections over the past two weeks. FCAAP recommends that school districts in locales with positive test rates averaging  ³5%  over the previous two weeks delay the start date for school until positive testing rates are lower.

We are a long way from 5 percent. A long way.

The district's mitigation efforts and I remind you that mitigation means slow not stop aren't designed to be effective when the spread is so high.

The AAP isn't the only doctors saying we shouldn't open.

Okay, that's the pediatricians what about the infectious disease doctors

From Tampa 10,

But infectious disease experts say reopening brick and mortar schools won't help stop the spread of COVID-19.

"We're not where we should be for kids to be going back to school. I think a lot of people are thinking maybe if we give two more weeks, we're actually going to see an improvement with COVID, but we haven't seen an improvement in several weeks," Dr. Jill Roberts with the University of South Florida Public Health said. "I'm not sure that that's going to give us the window that we really need. My additional concern of that is that's actually pushing us closer to flu season. 

The full picture hasn't been painted yet. Dr. Roberts says not enough kids have been tested and those that have are severe. As a parent herself, she also has a difficult decision to make.

"My husband and I both know she's probably going to get infected and she's probably going to bring it home. So that's gonna cause problems for us as well. There is no easy decision for anything or anybody here to make. It's all hard across the board," Dr. Roberts says.

Come fall, she says schools could be the epicenter for community transmission.
"Coronavirus spreads so much easier than Influenza does. There is no way that the schools don't end up becoming a center for this. I would be shocked if we make it very long through the semester before they go back to online learning," Dr. Roberts said.

Gulp, that doesn't sound good. If schools will close and everyone seems to know that,, why are we opening them again?

Heck, Melissa Ross of First Coast Connect has a couple of doctors on and guess what they said.

From FCC, 

Many educators, parents and even students are questioning this decision. As are some local doctors. We spoke with two local experts on kids and infectious disease. Dr. Mobeen Rathore, a prominent local pediatrician and co-chair of the Baptist Health System Infection Prevention and Control Committee; and Dr. Jeffrey Goldhagen, a pediatrician and the former Director of the Duval County Health Department joined us. 

Give it a listen they think opening schools is a bad idea too. 

When Ashley Smith Juarez voted no, she sited John Hopkins doctors as a reason why. 

It is Arizona, but they aren't as bad off as we are. 

It is California, but again, they aren't as bad off as we are.

Here is a doctor from Orlando's COVID-19 task force, who says schools are to dangerous.

I could have gone on and on.

Superintendent Greene and the board even admit in-person school is dangerous, and they say they would close them if only the medical experts told them too. The problem with that is expert after expert is telling them, screaming out them to and they aren't listening. Pediatricians, Infectious Disease doctors, John Hopkins, and doctor after doctor is screaming, do not open your schools. Yet still, they plow ahead and for what? 
They have been put in a terrible position because of a failure of leadership at the city and state level. It is true, that being said, it is their job to keep us safe and thus far they have chosen not to.
Schools will open, people will get exposed some will get sick or worse and schools will close again. I know it, you know it, Superintendent Greene and the board knows it and most importantly doctor after doctor knows it too. Opening schools is nothing but a fool's errand that will risk lives. 

200 here, 1200 there, told to quarantine after graduation ceremonies, we know schools will have to close so why are we risking lives?

Attendees to two separate Florida graduation ceremonies are being told to quarantine. 200 in Palm Bay, and 1200 in Brevard because they were exposed to the virus. We all know this will happen in schools, every school board member and superintendent who tells families to sign up for virtual options, know this, they know schools are not safe, yet they are still pushing to open. We are risking lives for what?

Many of the same board members and supers say they feel like they have no choice because of the FLDOE's executive order, an order that the Governor called a guideline and violates the state constitution. It's true the governor and commissioner have exhibited a complete lack of leadership but at some point, school boards and supers have to say enough is enough, and we aren't going to risk lives.   

From Florida Today,

As many as 1,200 people could have to quarantine after attendees at two more Brevard County high school graduations tested positive for COVID-19, Brevard Public Schools said late Thursday.
"Late this afternoon, we were notified that attendees at graduation ceremonies held at Palm Bay Magnet High School and Brevard Virtual School this past weekend tested positive for coronavirus," the school district said in a news release.
"Upon confirming these cases with the Brevard County Department of Health, we began the process of notifying those families who attended each of the ceremonies."
Over 200 Palm Bay graduates and 14 Brevard Virtual School graduates and their guests, along with 43 staff members, are being asked by health officials to self-isolate for 14 days, the release said.
We had 4 days where there were less than 10,000 cases and the Governor does a victory lap. Fewer rather than more cases is a good thing but its not a victory. Cases have to be in the hundreds and trending down for weeks before we can feel any relief. 
At the same time he is doing a victory lap at less than 10k cases, he shrugs his shoulders at the ever-rising death count.  He is either stunningly ignorant, devoid of empathy or it's my guess both.
Schools will open, people will get exposed and schools will close meaning we will have risked our lives for what? 

Thursday, July 30, 2020

The Times Union has questions

The Times Union sent me a questionnaire and these were my answers. I also included links to the JPEF and Channel 4 questionnaires. Then if you have any questions please don't hesitate to reach out,

 Times Union questionnaire

1. Age

2. Education
Bachelors degrees in political science and psychology

3. Family status
Wife, Julia Furber and four fur babies, Grrl, Rosemary, Penny and Elle

4. What's your pitch to people who don't know you?

All four people running for the District 3 school board seat have excellent resumes, there is the volunteer of the year, the coach, the college president and me, a 20-year teaching veteran and education activist. Since that is the case, we have to see what sets us apart.  

I am the only public school teacher in the group, and the only one that can say he has been actively fighting for our schools over the last 14 years. I have written thousands of blogs, letters to the editor, and op-eds all about education. These have been published on the blog Education Matters or printed here in Jacksonville and around the state. I also frequently advocate at school board meetings and also testified in the landmark fair funding lawsuit. I have a unique perspective as someone who is not only in the classroom but who has fought to improve things for our teachers, students, staff, and families.

Another thing that sets me apart is what I have been willing to risk and give up. As a writer, I often questioned, and when deserved was critical of former superintendents and school board members, and much of this came when the district sought to punish dissent. My career was threatened time and time again,, and on several occasions, the district tried to intimidate and punish me for my advocacy.

 I had eight different classrooms in 8 years and nearly as many different teaching assignments. Then one year, the district broke its own rules and staffed ultra-violent students into my class of intellectually disabled students putting them and me in danger. Still, I never quit fighting for my fellow teachers and our students. It got to the point where I had to seek legal action, and the district offered me 150 thousand dollars to quit, but I refused. Whether it was a change in administration or a realization that I wasn’t going anywhere, it was only in the last few years did the harassment end.

Then if elected, I will take a significant pay cut that I will never be able to makeup, and I will give up my professional teaching contract, what some people called tenure, as well.

Those aren’t the only things that set me apart. As I said, all the candidates running in district three have great resumes, and my interactions have all been positive. They genuinely seem to care, but two of them are relatively new residents to Jacksonville, one having moved here five years ago while the other returned here after a twenty-year absence also about five years. While the third is doing their third campaign, two for the city council and this one, in the last four years. Compare that to me, who has been in the classroom for decades and singularly focused on improving education and fighting for public schools and the teaching profession.    

If elected I won’t need time to get acclimated, I will show up with many more solutions than questions, and because of my writing, I will bring information and transparency to the city that it has never seen before, and that is long overdue.   
5. What's the moment you knew you had to run? Describe this for readers.

I have a great job at a school I love where I work with a fantastic staff and wonderful students. Before I decided to run, I felt perfectly content to spend the rest of my carer there. I have also been advocating for the teaching profession and public schools, so I already felt like I was contributing and playing a role. Then as the pandemic hit and it became hard to find the other candidates’ positions on the issues, I started to get nervous. How do they feel about privatization, testing, electing pro-education candidates, and so many other issues, but most importantly, what did they think about keeping people safe?

If you go to my website, you will find fourteen years’ worth of positions on the issues, but with them, I could only find out about what they had done not what they stand for or want to do. Eventually, my nervousness manifested into the fear that they would not fight for the things I felt important, which first and foremost, right now is keeping people safe. So with some reluctancy realizing all I would have to give up, I decided to run.

I decided why hold out hope that any of them would fight for things I find essential when I could do it myself and that by adding school board member to my resume of teacher, education writer, and activist, I could accomplish even more.       

Then when I decided to run, people told me not to take to strong of a position on a lot of issues and no opinions on anything that could prove controversial. I, however, decided to run like I am not seeking any votes; that way, I could be completely honest at all times. I wouldn’t have to hedge or equivocate, or dodge issues for fear of losing any votes, you can get that elsewhere. This choice has allowed me to be completely honest at all times about every issue.       

 6. What ties/personal connection do you have to Jacksonville and/or your district?

I moved here when I was seven and went to DCPS schools until I graduated from Ed White in 1986. I eventually attended and graduated from UNF, and I have lived at my residence in district 3 for seven years. 

7. What ties/personal connection do you have with education?

I went to and graduated from DCPS schools. I spent one year as a paraprofessional, and I will be starting my 20th year as a special needs teacher in a few weeks. I write extensively about education issues in the blog Education Matters. I have had hundreds of letters to the editor and op-eds published in the Folio, Times Union, and other papers throughout the state. I often advocate at school board meetings and testified in the landmark Fair Funding for Education trial. Then I regularly pitch education ideas to the local media, and, over the years, have helped with more than a few.     

8. What's the biggest issue in your district?

The biggest issue facing District 3 and every district is what to do with COVID- 19, how to keep people safe and educate at the same time.

If there weren’t a pandemic, I would say equity. There are some schools in district three that don’t want for resources while others are scraping by. We must, for lack of better words, bridge the equity gap.

9. How do you feel the school board has handled the back-to-school plan?

I think we have to acknowledge how we are in unprecedented times. That being said, I believe the district has bungled their response, and their plan puts people in danger and will inevitably lead to schools closing.

Everyone should have been put into Duval Homeroom first, and then if they wanted to opt into going into the schools, they could have. Keeping people safe and slowing the spread of the pandemic should be the district’s top priorities. That’s not to say the district shouldn’t do anything for working families and families with children that truly need to be in school. Teachers and Boardmember Willie have also offered solutions that would help with working families, ESE students, and other students that are in danger of falling through the cracks, solutions that have gone ignored.

Then Warren Jones said he would like us to go to online learning before backtracking, saying the district couldn’t get resources to students in time. Perhaps he and the district should have thought about that when they spent 4 million dollars on plexiglass dividers just one month ago. The money would have been better-utilized buying laptops and upgrading our digital infrastructure. Things I might add we will still need once the pandemic is over. There are safer solutions than opening schools that the district is ignoring.

I look at the Florida Marlins as a cautionary tale. Major League Baseball did a lot more than the district is doing and has unlimited resources, something the district does not have and they were forced to shut down after four days.  How long will it be before the first school has to?

I also think we should acknowledge that distance learning did not work great for some, but I can’t help but wonder how much better we could have made distance learning if we would have spent the last two months improving it.

Finally, I want to say everyone wants to be back, we all think that is the best thing, but right now it is just not safe. It is not a matter of if but when and how many schools will inevitably have to close, which means we will have risked lives for what. 

10. What are your thoughts on the half-cent sales tax?

I wrote about the need for a half-cent sales tax back in 2010 when the state first started to starve the district of resources. I reasoned if the state were going to abdicate its responsibilities, perhaps the citizens of Jacksonville would be willing to pick up the slack. So I think it is needed and has been needed for a long time.

Continuing, we should all be outraged by what happened last summer when the mayor and much of the city council fought against the sales tax preventing it from being on the ballot last fall. This purposeful delay gave Tallahassee the time to change the laws and now the district will lose out on hundreds of millions of dollars that will go to the owners of charter schools instead. Because of the lax rules, the money will flow into their pockets and then out of town. Make no mistake much of that money will not go to improving schools but instead to improving the bottom lines of bank accounts. Many of these owners are also large donors to the mayor and city council. Imagine if we would have passed the half-cent sales tax last fall. All the money would be going to dozens of projects that would have created hundreds of jobs that we could use right now.

As outrageous as this is, there is a solution. We need to elect pro-education candidates like Ben Marcus, Angie Nixon, and Joshua Hicks and send them to Tallahassee to change the laws so in the future, the money goes into needed infrastructure and not the pockets of wealthy donors.

Furthermore, if education was a three-legged stool and one leg represents our deteriorating infrastructure the other two legs may be able to keep the stool up. Unfortunately, it is not the only leg that is in trouble in Duval.

Duval’s teachers are some of the lowest paid in a state that already doesn’t pay it’s teachers well and don’t let the governor’s announcement of a pay raise fool you. The reality is it was as close to nothing as you can get, and tens of thousands of veteran teachers will see a pay cut. Teachers do not become teachers to get rich, but teachers’ salaries have regressed over the last decade. A teacher on the same step as me before the great recession made about ten thousand dollars more than I make now. Veteran teachers are out billions of dollars. That is billions in mortgage and car payments and spending that the state has also missed out on. So teachers are underpaid at the same time many of our support staff aren’t making a living wage and aren’t. Why would somebody choose to be a para or a secretary for DCPS when they can make more money working for Amazon.

So it’s not just our infrastructure that we have to address, but how we treat our employees as well.        


Channel 4

About those 2000 subs

The super said there were 80 openings two board meetings ago, their website says there are 157 openings just for teachers.

So I thought, well maybe they haven't updated the site so I asked the district and this is what they said. 

Hey Chris,
Hope you’re doing well and staying safe.
I’m pretty sure there’s an updated vacancy number. Will follow up with HR as well as guidance regarding work from home resolution.


They later got back to me and said there were 122 teacher openings so I guess 42 people could have quit and retired since then but...

So if the super was wrong that is one thing, if she was deceptive that is another, but regardless it makes me wonder about that 2000 sub claim she also made at the same time.

In fact today on the channel 4 insider's club meeting, she repeated that we had plenty of subs and even subs that were being specially trained to go virtually. I guess in an era where sending students and staff into dangerous situations is okay anything is possible, but sadly I don't believe that is true for one second. 

Then there was this

Um, are we now just following guidelines when they are convenient instead of always following them? Are there other guidelines the district is feeling free to ignore?

I don't say this with any joy but only sadness because I thought Greene has been solid and with the referendum even brave but at the end of the day, if we cannot trust our leadership, we need new leadership.

Ron DeSantis's big lie

Liars use two common strategies, make the lie big enough that nobody would believe you would make it up and repeat it over and over again. DeSantis is using both to force teachers and students back into schools.

Over and over again DeSantis has said children are not carriers of COVID-19. This is what the evidence says. 

From the New York Times, 

In the heated debate over reopening schools, one burning question has been whether and how efficiently children can spread the virus to others.
large new study from South Korea offers an answer: Children younger than 10 transmit to others much less often than adults do, but the risk is not zero. And those between the ages of 10 and 19 can spread the virus at least as well as adults do.
The findings suggest that as schools reopen, communities will see clusters of infection take root that include children of all ages, several experts cautioned.
“I fear that there has been this sense that kids just won’t get infected or don’t get infected in the same way as adults and that, therefore, they’re almost like a bubbled population,” said Michael Osterholm, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Minnesota.
Ugh, well it's not like DeSantis would know there were a lot of children 10-19 in schools (sic). Also low is not zero.  
Though there is a meme going around, that asks a pretty legitimate question. What's going to happen when we find out children haven't been getting COVID- 19 because we have kept them quarantined?
The thing is children have been getting.
From Bay News 9,
The Florida Department of Health releases weekly data on pediatric cases. The most recent data shows nearly 8,000 more children have gotten the virus since the week prior. That is a 34 percent increase
More than 31,000 children ages 17 and under have had the coronavirus in Florida. Over the course of eight days, hospitalizations have increased by 23 percent, bringing the total number of children hospitalized to 303.
The percent positivity rate for children increased by 1 percent from the week prior, to 14.4 percent. The state’s overall positivity rate is 12.6 percent.
So the amount of child cases is up, the amount of hospitalizations is up and the positivity rate is up too. GULP GULP and GULP! 
So DeSantis constantly says kids can't get it but even worse when he does so, he doesn't seem to know children both live and are taught by adults. He shows teachers and parents zero concern, ZERO! 
I don't know, if he is an idiot, so far the rabbit hole he figures what's the point of doing better or so far up Trump's a** that he can't how his recklessness is going to cost lives but that is what it is going to do. 
He is going to cost lives, sorry more lives, and that is the bottom line.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

About those teacher raises

If the state of Florida is going to force me to risk my life by sending me back to the classroom, at least I have that raise they promised to look forward to. Checks notes, oh since they got rid of Best and Brightest and school recognition funds as a veteran teacher, I will probably be getting a pay cut. Well isn’t that a kick in the a**

When DeSantis declared this the year of the teacher, little did we know that he meant, the year he would use them as a prop and put their lives in danger, but that is sure what happened.

Now about that teacher raise. He put 500 million towards them but then took out 480 million by eliminating the best and brightest and school recognition funds. Now I didn't like either program as they left out to many teachers, but they did put money in teacher's pockets. So that leaves 20 million dollars and since DeSantis wants this now money to go to raising starting salaries that doesn't leave a lot left over for those people already in the system.

Sadly despite the fact he did next to nothing for teachers, and many will actually see pay cuts, this did not stop DeSantis and dozens of GOP legislators from doing a victory lap and don't take it from me, take it from the superintendent of Leon County.

From the Tallahassee Democrat,

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is misleading the public about what teacher salaries will look like in the fall, according to Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna. 
In late June, DeSantis signed into law a bill that is designed to raise Florida teachers' minimum salaries to $47,500 and also would raise the salaries of veteran teachers...
...But the Leon County school district superintendent disagrees: “He’s misleading people and teachers when he says they’re all going to start at $47,500," Hanna told the USA TODAY NETWORK-Florida...
... The issue, Hanna said, is that the state is not allocating each district enough for all its teachers, not to mention that the bill neglects other school staff such as counselors and media specialists. 
This is a great article, and I would encourage you to read it in its entirety. Also, its a damn shame we are doing more for our support staff, many of whom don't make a living wage.
The raise friends were all smoke and mirrors presented as if he was doing something when he really wasn't.

Then throw in how he is insisting teachers and staff risk their lives and more of that in another post, with friends like DeSantis, then we sure don't need enemies.

Education Articles people should be reading in the age of COVID

Here are some great articles about what is happening that people should be reading.

If the choice to risk your child and teacher's lives is okay then everything is off the table.

It's all about choice, sorry, giving families choice, teachers and staff not so much, but as long as families have the choice to risk their children and their teachers lives it is okay, everything is fine. Well, it made me think about all the things that people couldn't bring to school before, the choice to risk lives became in vogue. If death is a serious possibility it makes a t-shirt with a beer can on it seem kind of mundane.

Anybody remember when they said we couldn't bring cupcakes for a while? I mean I still did but I definitely remember being told not to.

Then there are the obvious, guns, ammunition, knives, other weapons, cigarettes, and drugs, but what about some of the less obvious things. So I googled some lists.

Before I continue I want to apologize to Micheal who in 2002 I sent to the office for bringing a screwdriver to class. Friend I hope wherever you are you are well, and I wanted to say since nothing no longer matters, you were just ahead of your time. 

  • chewing gum
  • fizzy drinks including high energy drinks
  • glass bottles including perfume bottles
  • jewelry except for a watch and one pair of plain stud earrings worn in the earlobes
  • aerosol cans including deodorants
  • correction fluid
  • permanent marker pens
  • unnecessary money
  • expensive items
  • Cigarettes, matches and lighters
  • fireworks or "snaps" containing gunpowder
  • e-cigarettes, shisha pens or liquids for these
  • any items which are illegal to possess or carry, or inappropriate for the age of the child or the school environment

Light it up kids, smoke them if you got them.


Pets and other animals are not to be brought onto school grounds at any time. Animals are permitted at school only when needed for instructional purposes and when under the strict control of qualified instructors or handlers.

Toys, Games, Etc.

Students are not allowed to bring toys to school as it is a distraction to learning and often results in lost or broken toys. This includes trading cards, marbles, Tazos/Pogs, stuffed animals and dolls. The school provides sufficient items for children to play with for both outdoor and indoor recess. IPods, Game Boys, Tamagotchi's or any other type electronic entertainment devices are not permitted on school grounds. Theft or loss of such items will not be investigated by school personnel. Neither the school nor the district will be held liable for any damage or loss incurred. Please note that the above items are also not allowed in the PrimeTime program.
Animals?!? I may need an emotional support menagerie by the time this is over.
Aerosol cans, gum, cell phone, golf clubs, baseball bats, hats (see dress code), sunflower seeds, balloons, makeup/nail polish, video tapes/DVD's, matches/lighters, bandannas, perfumes/colognes, cameras, pocket knives, candy, MP3 players/I-Pods, poppers, sodas, drug/paraphernalia, weapons/replicas, over-the-counter medication, electronic games, radios, roller skates/Heelys, toy guns, flyers (unrelated to a school sponsored activity), and stink bombs should NOT be brought to school. Individuals are cautioned not to bring money (other than lunch money) or other valuables onto school grounds
Hats, hahahhaha, remember when taking off hats inside was a thing? Oh boy, we have come a long way from those days.

Then what about tank tops, bra straps, short shorts, halter tops, short shirts, bandannas or baggy pants with exposed boxers, and that shirt with the beer can or marijuana leaf?
Friends, I say if death is a possibility, go out comfortably.

I saw another list that had crossbows on it to which I say, keep your crossbows at home, absolutely no crossbows.
I could go on but my daily dose of depression has caught up with me earlier than usual. 
My point is, if the possibility of serious illness or death, for students, staff and family do not matter, then nothing matters. Nothing at all. 

Monday, July 27, 2020

Greene risk your life or talk to HR (draft)

That was my take away from the latest flowery letter she sent today. You know there was a time I liked and even appreciated her letters of inspiration but that stopped when she said, her risk you and your family's life or check into other options. I have included the letter so you can make your own judgment.

Every time she sends one of the emails I kind of feel responsible. She was hired in June and it was six weeks and she still hadn't reached out to the staff so I sent her chief of staff the letter below.

It was nice talking to you at the meet and greet the other day.

I saw this on Facebook, posted by a teacher

I don't know why the new superintendent is leaving me with flat emotions, but I'm not feeling it, not yet. She needs to address teachers and support staff and soon.

I know she had that great speech at UNF and much of the media covered it but I cant't help but think a hello note could go a long way especially for those teachers who may not have seen the coverage. 

I would also suggest in the note a pledge to meet with teachers to both listen to their ideas and their concerns.

Just some thoughts.

Thanks and have a great day

Chris Guerrieri

It wasn't long after we got our first email and we have been getting them ever since and like I said I have often appreciated them but that appreciation stops when risking my and my family's lives start. 

Here is her letter

Dear Team Duval,

We continue to fight against COVID-19, but the challenge for us is much bigger than it is for most. Like so many in our community, we continue to fight the spread. However, this is a battle none of us can win alone. Together, we must unite to keep each other and our students as safe as possible. Together, we must rise to meet the needs of 130,000 children, a generation of students enduring an unprecedented disruption in learning. We do not yet know the enormity of this challenge, but my hope is that each of you will join me in the simple and confident refrain, challenge accepted.

As an employee, you are the foundation of our system. Through your tireless and unrelenting commitment to this profession, we accomplish seemingly unachievable outcomes for our students and their families. For so many of these children, we know that our schools, our teachers, and our staff are their only chance for educational success and all that comes with it. COVID-19 has had its impact on our lives in many different ways.  For many families this has taken the form of lost jobs, income, and other services.  There could be many other adverse impacts, and that is why our work is so important.  We must be resilient, courageous, and increasingly innovative to find ways to keep students achieving at a high level, even under the challenges of this pandemic. But in doing so, we must properly invest in resources to ensure our teachers and employees are protected and safeguarded while we fight for our students.

We must not let COVID-19 defeat us in our mission.

I have reminded myself of that exhortation every morning since mid-March when the early stages of the pandemic disrupted all of school and all of life. Every day since then, I have woken up, done my medical assessment, and made my way to the office continually reminding myself – I got this. Now, I pack a pile of face coverings, I remind my family to cover up and keep their hands clean, and I pray for them and my 80-year-old mom. I am not immune to the anxiety and fear for how this disease might impact my family. 

These are not mere words, but rather, the heart-wrenching process I engage in each day. I know you do, too.

It pierces my heart when I reflect on all the emails I have received and stories I have heard about how COVID-19 has impacted your lives. Your notes and your comments do not fall on deaf ears. I tell you all the time that you are the reason this district has achieved so much, and I search every day for a path forward that would insulate all of you from the impacts of the virus. There is no perfect path in this pandemic, but we will continue to work on the best available options to meet as many needs as possible.

With no perfectly right answer in an era none of us expected, we all must make the decision of how we will approach this battle. When school begins under the new plan, I will be in buildings. I will be in classrooms. I will be in a face covering. I will wash my hands, and I will keep my distance. That is my “right” answer. You may arrive at a different conclusion for your circumstances, and please know, whatever you choose is perfectly acceptable. We all must make difficult decisions. If you are struggling with making the decision that is right for you, I urge you to speak with our HR department or your supervisor to learn what options may be available to you.

After months of dialogue, consultation, thousands of emails and survey responses, guidance from all corners of the medical community and a wide range of constituency groups, here is a brief overview of how the district will proceed. The details and the full plan are available on our website.  
We will open school on Aug. 20. Teachers will come back for pre-planning on Aug. 12. This will give us more time to prepare our facilities and an additional day of planning and professional development for teachers.

  1. Elementary Schools: Elementary schools will open with three attendance options: face-to-face for the full week in our school buildings, full-time Duval HomeRoom, or enrollment in Duval Virtual Instruction Academy. Teachers who prefer to teach fully online through Duval HomeRoom can apply for those roles through Human Resources. Full details have been emailed to you. The deadline to apply is July 31. Staffing will be based on the number of students and families that choose Duval HomeRoom as their option.
  2. Secondary Schools: Secondary schools will also have three attendance options to begin the school year: a “bridge” model that includes face-to-face and online, fully online through Duval HomeRoom, or Duval Virtual Instruction Academy. Under the bridge model, students will attend school on some days of the week and learn at home on the other days. On Sept. 14, all students in the bridge model are expected to return to school five days a week. We will evaluate this strategy around Labor Day with an understanding of how pandemic data has changed at that time. Instructional decisions for Duval HomeRoom will be made at the school and will be based on student demand and scheduling.
  3. ESE Students: Students with exceptionalities have various, similar options for in-school and at-home learning.

The district is extending the deadline for Duval HomeRoom registration to enable all families who desire this option to work through the registration process. The new deadline is July 31.

We are taking extensive measures to increase cleaning and sanitization, to provide classrooms with PPE, and to take other measures to mitigate the spread. These measures include:

  • Purchase of face coverings for all students and staff, and face shields for K-2 and ESE students
  • Availability of hand sanitizer in every classroom
  • Availability of gloves for every classroom
  • Application of antimicrobial surface protectant to all high-contact common surface areas in secondary schools then progressing to elementary schools until all schools are treated 
  • Desk shields installed in all grade 3-8 classrooms 
  • Plexiglass screens for secondary schoolteacher desks
  • Multiple non-contact thermometers for every school
  • The district’s cleaning service will implement cleaning and sanitization procedures focused on keeping high-touch surfaces sanitized throughout the day to supplement antimicrobial application
  • The district is also increasing its contingent of school-based nurses to perform contact tracing and other services

Although we have already implemented many safeguards and others are in process, we will continue to research additional options for keeping our employees and students safer at school. Many more details are on the back-to-school website.
Human Resources (through “Post Office”) has sent all employees an extensive email and documentation regarding the options available to you. Again, we must all evaluate our personal circumstances relative to the pandemic and make our personal decisions. As we prepare to open our doors physically and virtually to this generation of students, I am hopeful that each of you finds the place on our team that is right for your situation. Within the imperfect environment of this pandemic and all its known and unknown effects, we face one of the most challenging eras of public education. It is with my knowledge of your capabilities and dedication to our students that I am able to confidently say, challenge accepted.

Together, we’ve got this.

Kind regards,
She says she cares but if she did she wouldn't be making the choice to send us back, that would not be her default. She says she cares but she is asking us to risk our lives and our jobs. She says she cares but at this point it would be better she showed us than told us.