The Osceola County School District will turn to digital distance learning starting Monday.
The overall message from school administrators is this: bear with us, as almost all of this is new to you and to us, there will be kinks to work out, and while some things will not work or be taught as effectively as face to face teaching, some of the plan was already ready to go and being used by some teachers, and the rest are getting it into practice this week to be ready for Monday. Some pieces of it have already been in use by the Florida Virtual School.
“There will be a learning curve for teachers, students and parents. The students are always first in our thoughts,” School Board Chair Kelvin Soto said.
The district has set up its framework on ClassLink, accessed through the district’s website (OsceolaSchools.net). It can be accessed with any internet-enabled device (smartphone, tablet, computer).
For those who don’t have devices at home, schools will distribute them beginning at high schools on Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at your child’s school. Elementary and Middle schools will distribute what devices are left on Friday from 9-1. The district has about 1,000 laptops and other devices, and Dr. Pace said schools will be raiding each school’s digital carts as well, meaning the district will have an adequate number of devices.
Students will be expected to complete a lesson or assignment in each subject, but it’s not expected to take a full seven-hour day, Pace said, and frequent breaks for snacks and exercise to break up screen time is a good idea. Free Wi-Fi will be available free through Spectrum for 60 days, and of course will be available in areas where Spectrum has coverage. Hotspots will also be available for public use.
The district intends to have everything ready by Monday, but Scott Clark, Director of Media and Instructional Technology, is asking students and parents to wait until then, as systems are being tested.
“Teachers are creating teams as we speak, so there will be issues if they try it now,” he said. “We’re going to be doing load tests, we’re hoping internet providers are boosted enough for when we flip the switch (on Monday). Teachers are getting it now, and we’re asking them to take baby steps at first next week.”
For any other issues parents have, the district has set up a digital learning hotline: 407-870-4037.
Elementary and Middle schools will have paper learning packets available in school offices starting Monday if ultimately needed; contact your schools in advance with information on child’s grade level and schedule.
For exceptional education students for whom distance learning will not be feasible or with IEPs, contact the district’s Exceptional Student Education department at 407-343-8700.
School meals: The 12 locations served 1,138 meals on Monday and over 2,000 on Tuesday, and the number is expected to rise. Three new locations will open Monday: Liberty High, Narcoossee Middle, Holopaw Church. Meal pickup times will be extended from 9:30 a.m. to noon.
Employees: The School District, the largest employer in the county, is continuing to pay employees and honor contracts.