Schools to remain closed, distance learning continues until June 3
Schools in Lee County will remain closed for the remainder of the school year.
The School District of Lee County, based on a recommendation by Gov. Ron DeSantis, will continue distance learning until the last day of school, June 3.
“While we realize this is extremely disappointing for all of us and not the outcome that we would have wanted, it is a necessary step in order for us to do our part in continuing to stop the spread of COVID-19 and making sure we keep you and your students safe. Rest assured that during the school closures, we will continue providing services, including online learning opportunities, meals to our students, and emotional support,” Superintendent Dr. Greg Adkins said in a prepared statement on the district’s website.
District spokesperson Rob Spicker said the news to continue distance learning did not come as a shock, as it was their expectation that distance learning would continue through the end of the year.
“We had been developing lesson plans weeks in advance,” he said. “It just continues what we are doing.”
The last day of school for IB senior students is April 30, the last day for senior students is May 15 and the rest of the student body is June 3.
Spicker said the district is reaching out to the Florida Department of Education in regards to summer school, to see if they should continue distance learning through the summer, or not continue it at all.
As far as graduation for seniors, Spicker said the district knows that seniors deserve recognition, and families want that recognition.
“We are working on a plan and as soon as we have details of how to honor our class of 2020 we will release that,” he said.
The free Grab & Go meals will continue through June 3 because of the unanticipated closure of school before transitioning into the traditional Summer Break Spot meal program. The Grab & Go meals, for all children 18 and younger, are now available at 30 schools, nine bus routes and 13 community organizations.
Spicker said each location is offering a breakfast and lunch in a bag from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. He said as the need increases they will add more locations.
There are more than 24,000 meals served every day.
As of Friday, April 17, 384,370 Grab and Go meals have been distributed. The meals program began March 23, marking this week as the fourth week it has been available.
Spicker said the district appreciates everyone’s support during distance learning. He said they know this is not the ideal situation for many families as their students are at home learning.
“We hope that it is working for them,” Spicker said.
Thomas Millins, principal at North Fort Myers Academy for the Arts, said that classroom learning is best method, but district has done a great job providing teachers with the training to conduct virtual classrooms.
“It works because of the training they got from the county and what we continue to offer to paraprofessionals and employees,” Millins said. “We’re doing pretty good, but nothing takes the place of one-on-one instruction.”
Millins said it’s been hard, but is he is optimistic moving forward.
“It’s devastating for the teachers to not be one on one with the kids. It’s devastating for our arts program because our arts programs are so recognized,” Millins said. “We would love to continue what we’re doing, but I want to keep going in a positive manner, get through this and come back strong in August.”
If there are any questions, problems, issues, or stress being experienced by families, he encourages them to reach out to their teachers, principals or the district for help and support. The district can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“It is not just the teachers that are there for you. The teachers have people behind them,” Spicker said, adding that as they go through the next six weeks of distance learning ask those questions. “We have a lot of people to help you out.”
By all accounts, distance learning has been going very well; student, teacher engagement through Google Classrooms, phone, or email has been 98 percent, he said.
“Ninety-eight percent of students have been engaged with us,” Spicker said adding that staff is locating the remaining 2 percent to keep them engaged as well. “We are very pleased. By all accounts it (distance learning) seems to be working well. There are individual stresses here and there and that’s why we say ask for help. Use the resources that are there.”