May 28, 2021
Dear SCS employees & families,
It goes without saying that the 2020-2021 school year has been one of the most trying times in the history of public education. This pandemic impacted everyone in countless ways, whether in a face-to-face classroom environment or a remote learning experience. I am extraordinarily proud of the brilliant collaboration that everyone exhibited, finding solutions to the multitude of obstacles encountered this year. The support of our families, community leaders, businesses, foundations, and civic groups has been invaluable during this challenging year. The patience and resiliency of our students is to be commended.
I applaud all employees for their dedication and commitment to our students and their families. It was a combined effort among all departments within our school district structure, including food service, custodial, transportation, human resources, student services, finance, operations, information technology, academic services, and, on the frontline, teachers and administrators. Words alone cannot express my true appreciation for the employees of our school district and how they worked tirelessly to meet the needs of our students.
As we rapidly approach the end of the school year, I want to provide some clarification about where we are and where we want to go regarding COVID-19 protocols as there continues to be some questions. Governor Ron DeSantis recently issued two emergency orders – one effectively ending “local COVID-19 restrictions and mandates on individuals and businesses”, and the other invalidating all remaining local emergency COVID-19 orders still in place after July 1, 2021. The Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) indicated that neither executive order [EO21-101, EO21-102] impacts “any school district’s policies for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year”. In light of this clarification from the FLDOE, our school district will continue implementing the current face mask policy (3.24) which will “sunset” on June 30, 2021 – the policy’s existing expiration date.
As we look ahead and plan for the fresh beginning of the 2021-2022 school year, the health, safety, and wellbeing of our students, teachers, and staff members will continue to be a top priority for Sarasota County Schools. We will continue to work alongside our local health partners to ensure the school district is utilizing the most up-to-date information and health best practices when considering plans for next school year. The School Board, district leadership, and school-based leaders all share the sentiment that – barring any drastic changes in local or national health guidance or COVID-19 cases- our goal is to begin next school year as normally as possible. The school district’s plan is to open the 2021-2022 school year face-to-face without remote learning or concurrent instructional delivery methods. Additionally, this includes starting next school year with face masks being optional for employees, students, parents and visitors.
Please note, Sarasota County Schools, in accordance with FLDOE, categorizes remote learning differently from virtual learning. For those seeking virtual learning for next school year, rest assured that our district, as in years past, will still be offering this through Sarasota Virtual School (SVS) for all students interested in part-time or full-time virtual learning experiences. The deadline to enroll in SVS is July 9, 2021 – please visit our website for more information.
Thank you for your continued trust and support during these extraordinary circumstances. Working together as one, I’m confident we will finish this school year strong, and position all of our school communities for success and positive, impactful growth next school year.
Dr. Brennan Asplen
Superintendent of Schools