Changing information caused student uncertainty in school scheduling

Mia Parola

Staff Writer

Ever since plans for students to return to class were unveiled in June, Duval County Public Schools students and faculty have faced issues and misunderstandings regarding the Duval HomeRoom and Hybrid learning plans.

The information given about these plans before school started led many students to perceive a lack of communication between DCPS and their schools.

After a draft for plans to reopen schools was emailed to parents June 23 a more comprehensive update was promised to be released by July 4.

Instead the final plan was confirmed July 23—just 17 days before school was scheduled to start.

While confusing, the DCPS School Board said it wasn’t something the district could easily control due to the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and city events.

“The rationale behind that plan was the fact that we were the only district in the state that could’ve had 20,000 visitors for the Republican National Convention in town,” said Warren Jones, school board chairman. “But of course that was cancelled the very day that we approved the plan.”

There was also behind the scenes communication about which back to school approach would work best for schools.

“We met [virtually] with [DCPS Superintendent] Dr. Greene, mostly weekly, to talk about different options,” said Melanie Hammer, Douglas Anderson principal. “And from there the plan was tweaked into the hybrid we’re doing now.”

Misunderstandings, fear of the coronavirus and scheduling conflicts led to frustrations for students who felt they were left out of the loop.

But factors outside the district’s control also came into play as the number of cases of the coronavirus continued to rise.

“With this whole COVID…one day we’re told not to wear masks, and the next we’re told to wear masks,” Hammer said. “It’s the same thing with the school system.”

Because of the uncertainties of the coronavirus, students, school administration and the district have had to work with constantly changing information. While students may continue to encounter problems, Jones said there are procedures students can take.

“The district has a constituent services person, so if there are issues that a parent brings to our attention—or a student—then we make sure we…address those issues,” Jones said.

Editor’s Note: As of Oct. 19, students had the option to move from full time on-campus classes to Duval HomeRoom, or return to campus from online classes.

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