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Lake school board pushes opening to Aug. 24, plans letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis

Stephanie Smith speaks to the Lake County School Board on Monday. Image: LCPS via YouTube

Lake County is pushing the start of school back to Aug. 24.

School Board members tried during a marathon special meeting Monday to delay the opening further but found they couldn’t do it.

First, there’s a state order to fully reopen in August. Second, pushing the start to end of the month would cost some employees a paycheck.

The board settled on four choices for students: traditional, virtual, virtual with a teacher at a local school, and a combination of online and at school.

Board chair Kristi Burns says a state order is forcing them to reopen even though community spread and limits on social distancing create a high risk environment under CDC guidelines.

She plans a letter to the governor from the board requesting local control.

“In a hurricane we have never been asked to open schools,” she said. “In a tornado, in a giant storm, in any other major health-risking event, we have never been mandated to open schools.”

The School Board heard from concerned teachers, like Stephanie Smith of Mount Dora, and staff with underlying conditions or vulnerable family members who fear bringing the coronavirus home.

Smith said: “I don’t want to walk past a teacher’s room that I’ve worked with and know that teacher has expired because she came back or he came back to work and have to go back past their room every day or see a desk or a chair in my room that’s empty now because a student has passed.”

The district is shifting schedules and school times to keep in-person classes small and reduce transitions.

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Joe Byrnes

About Joe Byrnes


Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.