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Orange School Board Approves Back-To-School Plan, Calls For Local Authority Over Reopenings

Orange County School Board members approved a back-to-school plan Friday giving parents a hybrid option of face-to-face and virtual learning amid the coronavirus pandemic.  

But Chairwoman Teresa Jacobs believes it’s possible the state will reject the plan, and the board will have to start over. 

The board approved the plan on the contingency the state give local officials the authority to reopen brick-and-mortar schools. The state wants all schools to reopen five days a week. 

Chairwoman Teresa Jacobs reluctantly offered her support for the plan and what she characterized as a “game of chicken” with the state. 

“If we wait any longer to start this game of chicken, by the time we hear back from the state with a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ we will be pushing it very very late, and we still need to survey our parents and our teachers.”   

Under the so-called LaunchEd@home plan, students would learn at home at first but later could go to school a few days a week, as the coronavirus eased its grip on Florida. The school start date also was pushed back to Aug. 21. 

Parents also can choose Orange County Virtual School or face-to-face instruction, an option strongly opposed by teachers. The district is the fourth-largest in Florida, serving some 215,000 students.

Board member Linda Kobert called on the public to support the board’s demand for local authority over schools. 

“I need you to write the governor. I need you to write the commissioner of education. I need you to write the chancellor and stand with us.”  

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Amy Green

About Amy Green

Reporter and Producer

Amy Green covers the environment and climate change at WMFE News. She is an award-winning journalist and author whose extensive reporting on the Everglades is featured in the book MOVING WATER, published by Johns Hopkins University Press, and podcast DRAINED, available wherever you get your podcasts. Amy’s ... Read Full Bio »