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Teachers rallying for change, Leon County School Board addresses concerns

Published: Aug. 4, 2020 at 10:37 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - With a little more than three weeks remaining until school starts, the Leon County School Board met again Tuesday night.

There was discussion covering COVID-19 guidance measures along with what teachers and parents can expect.

One group of protesters, which encompassed dozens of teachers, parents, LCS staff, and students, showed up with signs and cars outside of Tuesday’s LCS board meeting. They were urging the board to go completely virtual for the first nine weeks of school.

Tuesday afternoon the Aqualina Howell Center was covered with a concerned Leon County Schools community. During the press conference portion, many of them raised concerns regarding the upcoming school year. The board spent their night working to give them answers as we move closer to heading back to school.

Around 6 p.m. Tuesday, the crowds near Aqualina Howell Center got in their cars, honking their horns, and caravaned around the center. Many of the teachers expressed that they are fearful, and want to spend the first nine weeks of the semester completely online.

One of those teachers is Sarah Marquez, “The district has done a really good job of purchasing Canvas and the Chromebooks for the kids and setting us up so we can be successful teachers online, and ideally I would like to do that so we can all be safe.”

Marquez cited the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which states that a percent positive rate above five is unsafe, without a 14-day delay. In Leon County, Tuesday’s percent positive rate was 10.98%. That is why the group says the decision to go all online should not fall on the state, but the board.

While sympathetic, Leon County Superintendent Rocky Hanna said during the meeting that the district doesn’t have a choice.

But, staff are still worried.

“As an educator, I want to be in the classroom, I want to have those small group sessions, and pull them to the side when I see they are struggling and have a conversation with them. But we can’t do that safely with them now,” said Michelle Fletch, a Fort Braden Teacher.

“We are not going to be able to properly socially distance, and if you are going to effectively teach kids in person, you have to get down at their level and you have to be able to interact with them and you can’t do that in a socially distant way,” said teacher Sarah Marquez.

The teachers did stress it’s not that they don’t want to go to the classroom; they want to return safely.

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