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March 20 - School-Related Questions and Answers

UPDATED: March 24, 2020 -- 6:30 PM

ORIGINALLY POSTED: MArch 20, 2020 -- 8:00 PM

 

Instructional Continuity Plan

How exactly will online learning actually work?

  • The Instructional Continuity Plan will be shared with teachers who may volunteer to review them on Wednesday, March 25.

Can more than one student do their learning at the same time (in a household)?

  • If each child does not have a digital device, parents may want to stagger their access times on the computer for these “web-based” programs.

Will there be schedules for students to log on based on their grade level or by their specific classes they need to take?

  • Some teachers may offer video conferencing opportunities, but they will communicate directly with their students.

Will virtual learning be compulsory or can kids and parents just forget about the last quarter?

  • Virtual learning is not optional. Participation in the Instructional Continuity Plan is essential to complete the academic year.

Do you have curriculum guides (like Hillsborough has for their teachers) for Sarasota?

  • All teachers have always had access to a wealth of resources and standards-based lessons found online in our Instructional Focus Guides.

Are kids able to come to their school to access the distance learning if they don’t have reliable internet at home?

  • We are working through a plan for students who do not have internet access at home. We’ll provide more information on this next week.

How is the teacher training on March 30th going to be rolled out?

  • Further directions will be provided to teachers later next week.
    • Do I have to come to school for this training?
      • Training will be virtual and not in person, unless there are special circumstances (and that training will be in groups of 2-9 people only).
    • Will we be in our own classrooms or grouped together?
      • Training will be virtual and not in person, unless there are special circumstances (and that training will be in groups of 2-9 people only).
    • Is it a webinar of is an administrator going to do the training in-person?
      • Training will be virtual and not in person, unless there are special circumstances (and that training will be in groups of 2-9 people only).

What if I don’t have reliable internet and Comcast doesn’t come to my area?

  • We are working on plans to provide alternatives for parents who cannot access the internet. More information will follow on this topic next week.

Will teachers only be reporting back to work on March 30 for a training, and then working from home until April 15?  Or will we be back at work in school full-time starting that day [March 30}? 

  • Teachers will be providing the Instructional Continuity Plan virtually.

Is there any opportunity for substitutes to participate in the March 30th training, so we could be prepared to help fill in?

  • Only long-term substitutes will be asked to participate. Daily substitutes will not be participating in the March 30th

Are my only two options holding my child back a year or having them do distance learning? Are there any other options?

  • We expect all students to participate in the Instructional Continuity Plan. There are no other options at this time.

Are charter schools and private schools included in remote learning also? We have not heard from our school about any options like this.

  • Please contact your charter or private school directly for information on their academic plans.

I don’t have cable and can’t afford it, what are my options?

  • We are working on options for students who do not have access to an internet connection available in their area. Please take advantage of the Comcast Internet Essentials program (please visit https://www.sarasotacountyschools.net/deviceneedssurvey and look at the “Related Downloads” heading). “Wireless Access Zones” may be set up for families in specific school parking lots where there is a documented lack of reliable internet access.

  

 

Devices for utilizing the Instructional Continuity Plan

Does each student need to have their own device to use the programs?

  • If each child does not have a digital device, parents may want to stagger their access times on the computer for the “web-based” programs.

Will these programs work on PCs and Macs?

  • To the best of our knowledge, this web-based program will work on all operating systems that have a modern internet browser (examples: Internet Explorer 11 or higher, Microsoft Edge, Chrome 68 or higher, Safari, Firefox)

Can the online schooling be done on an iPad?

  • If the iPad has a modern internet browser (examples: Internet Explorer 11 or higher, Microsoft Edge, Chrome 68 or higher, Safari, Firefox) installed on it as one of the apps, then assignments should be able to be completed.

I would like to buy my child a laptop – what is the best type to buy to use for the distance learning program/platform?

  • Sarasota County Schools focuses on web-based learning solutions so the operating system/platform is not a potential roadblock. The key is making sure a modern internet browser (examples: Internet Explorer 11 or higher, Microsoft Edge, Chrome 68 or higher, Safari, Firefox) is installed on the device.

If I need to check out a device for my child, where do I pick it up? What time and day? What verification do I need to bring?

  • Laptops are currently being prepared for families that have correctly completed the Mobile Device Needs Survey at sarasotacountyschools.net/deviceneedssurvey. Information about pick-up dates and times will be sent to individual families. The district is working to ensure large numbers of families do not all come for device pick-up at the same time, which would fall outside current CDC guidelines.

  

 

Questions pertaining to Exceptional Student Education (ESE) students

When will we know about our ESE student’s accommodations?

  • ESE teachers will be communicating with families after March 31st.

How will special needs students be receiving their accommodations and how will this be verified?

  • The team of teachers and service providers at each individual school will be reviewing student IEPs and ensuring that allowable accommodations are considered while delivering instruction. Parents will be reminded of accommodations that work best for their child/children (example: If students need to be in a quiet space, or take 15-minute breaks).

Could you share how students with disabilities will be receiving services and a free appropriate public education (FAPE), holding required meetings virtually, and staying on top of student progress for ALL students?

  • The district will be providing diverse opportunities for access in the virtual world. During these unprecedented times, partnership between parents, teachers and support staff will be essential in monitoring student learning. Once have returned to traditional instructional delivery, and /or before, an IEP can reconvene to review student needs and make recommendations.

How will I, as a teacher, be expected to accommodate my students?

  • All Instructional Continuity Plans also include a plan for meeting the needs of our ESE students.

What about kids with very specific IEPs (Individual Education Plans)?

  • Guidance and resources will be provided in the Instructional Continuity Plan.

What are the online resources for occupational therapy?

  • Guidance and resources will be provided in the Instructional Continuity Plan.

What are the online resources for physical therapy?

  • Guidance and resources will be provided in the Instructional Continuity Plan.

What are the online resources for speech and language therapy?

  • Guidance and resources will be provided in the Instructional Continuity Plan.

Testing for Gifted and IEP meetings, will those be completed at this time?

  • Testing for Gifted will not occur at this time. All IEP timelines will be reviewed and collaborative decisions will be made with parents to assist all students.

Will the Gifted application/deadline be extended?

  • Yes, this will be extended.

Any update on special schools, like Oak Park, and programs?

  • The Instructional Continuity Plan will include Oak Park School, as well as all cluster programs for students with significant needs.

 

  

Employee concerns about childcare

Are the children of cafeteria workers allowed to be at school?

  • Please work with the Director of Food and Nutrition services on this issue.

Are the children of teachers allowed to be at school? 

  • The Instructional Continuity Plan and associated training for teachers is being designed to allow teachers to work from home.

Are the children of bus drivers allowed to be at school? 

  • Campuses are closed, so all students should be at home.

Are there resources for school district employees to use for childcare?

  • Not at this time.

If I am a teacher with no childcare, can I work from home?

  • The Instructional Continuity Plan and associated training for teachers is being designed to allow teachers to work from home.
    • Do I have to come in to my classroom?
      • No, teachers do not have to come into their classrooms.

What happens if I am unable to do my job now because of not having access to childcare?

  • If you are being asked to report to work and have a hardship, please contact your direct supervisor.

 

 

Substitutes and Long-Term Substitutes

What do these changes mean for long-term substitutes? When do we come back? What would we be paid?

  • Long-term substitutes who are involved in teaching classes or called in to work will be paid as they have been in the past, and they would be involved in the training opportunities on March 30th and March 31st.

Do you have any information as to whether I will be paid as I have been in the past?

  • Long-term substitutes who are involved in teaching classes or called in to work will be paid as they have been in the past.

Do substitute custodians still get paid?

  • Our current plan is to call all custodians back into work on March 30th. This would include substitute custodians. Substitute custodians have to work to receive a paycheck.

Are all substitutes reporting on March 30th, or only some substitutes?

  • Currently our plan is to have all substitute custodians report back to work on March 30th. Please understand we will be in compliance with CDC recommendations so shift changes may occur.

 

 

Support staff & Paraprofessionals

As support staff, what will be our role when we go back on March 30th?

  • These plans are being finalized. You will be contacted by your supervisor next week and given more information regarding your return on March 30th.

Do paraprofessionals have to come back on March 30th?

  • We are planning to have training opportunities for paraprofessionals on March 30th and March 31st.

Will paraprofessionals be paid during this school closures through April 15th

  • All School Board-appointed employees will be paid through April 15th.

What will reassignment of duties look like?

  • We are continuing to work on these plans.

  

 

Virtual School -- Florida & Sarasota

Will the timeline and classes for students already enrolled in virtual school be changing at all because of the brick and mortar school changes?

  • Currently, there are no changes to our part-time or full-time Virtual Schools. Families will be contacted by the Virtual Schools staff if changes become necessary.

We want to move out child into a Virtual School classroom. What do we need to do to start this immediately?

  • Please visit the school choice and student assignment section of the district website to learn more about Sarasota Virtual School.

How do I go about getting my child signed up for virtual school because in-person school is now closed? I saw on the virtual school website that there are 2 options, but full-time virtual is closed for the rest of the school year.

  •  Sarasota County School's Instructional Continuity Plan will allow classroom teachers to deliver their lessons and assignments online. The Instructional Continuity Plan is separate from the district’s online/distance learning. Sarasota Virtual School has full-time and part-time options, but these options are not part of the Instructional Continuity Plan. You child’s classroom teacher will be in contact with you regarding when and how to begin the online lessons in the Instructional Continuity Plan.

When will the virtual school let me know if we’ve been approved for a laptop?

  • Although Sarasota Virtual School is an online program, it is not involved in the district IT department's distribution of devices for students in need through the Mobile Device Needs Survey. The IT department will contact families directly with instructions on when and where to pick up the device for their child.

  

 

Questions pertaining to the Transportation department

Why can’t the Transportation department run their regular routes and deliver food to their stops?

  • This is one option being considered as we move forward. However, there are very strict guidelines regarding food safety.

Why aren’t Transportation employees receiving any of these updates?

  • Updates that are sent through the ConnectEd/Community Engage database are being posted to the School District’s website for those not receiving emails or phone calls. Please make sure your contact information on the Employee Portal is up-to-date to ensure you receive emails and phone calls.

  

 

Meals for students during school closures

What If I can’t come during the pick-up times because of my new work schedule, but still need to get food? 

Are case managers able to pick up for families that don’t have transportation?

  • The Federal guidelines require that all children receiving meals must be in the car. Any and all children under the age of 18 can receive food, whether or not they are students in Sarasota County Schools.

How were the current food pick-up locations chosen?

  • These sites were selected because they qualified under the Federal and State guidelines. It is possible that we will expand locations based on demand.

Can parents/guardians designate other people to pick up food on behalf of their children if one/both parents/guardians have to work during the meal pick-up hours?

  • The Federal guidelines require that all children receiving meals must be in the car. Any and all children under the age of 18 can receive food, whether or not they are students in Sarasota County Schools.

  

 

General working conditions at schools and other District facilities

What specifically will the school district do to ensure the health & safety of ALL employees reporting to school campuses and district facilities during this pandemic?  

  • We care very deeply about the health and safety of all Sarasota County Schools’ employees. Employees who are able to work from home will be allowed to do so. We will follow the CDC guidelines to ensure no employee is working in close proximity to more than 10 people.

How will staff meetings and faculty meetings be held?

  • All administrators will connect with their staffs in a variety of ways.

Are people able to Skype and Zoom in to a meeting if they don’t feel comfortable being at work (or are actually ill and should be staying home anyways)?

  • No one will be asked to report to a work location in groups of 10 or more. Your administrators will communicate with you in a variety of ways.

 

  

Access to school campuses

What specifically will be happening at schools on March 30th and beyond?

Who will be allowed on campuses?

Who will not be allowed on campuses?

  • All school campuses are closed to students. Operationally essential staff will be allowed on campus. All staff while on campus will be required to maintain CDC social distancing guidelines.

Are teachers allowed in their classrooms before March 30th to get items they will need to use at home?

  • Principals will connect with their staff to offer a period of time to access their classrooms. All staff while on campus will be required to maintain CDC social distancing guidelines.

Are students allowed on campus (before April 15th) to go to their lockers?

  • No, but if this is an emergency situation, please contact your school’s administration.

 

  

Other

Has the school year been extended to June 30th?

  • The Commissioner of Education hopes that we will be able to end the school year on time, but has provided guidance that we may need to plan for extending the school calendar to June 30th.

What exactly does THIS mean? (from FLDOE) “Requirements for graduation and promotion, and final course grades will be evaluated as though those assessments which were cancelled did not exist.”

  • All assessments have been canceled at this time. We will share any additional guidance we receive from the Department of Education.
    • Does this mean that the grades from Quarters 1-3 are what count for advancement and graduation? If yes, will virtual learning grades count?
      • Virtual learning grades will count for Quarter 4.

Do I really have to use my PTO to stay at home if I feel fine and no one was sick on my cruise?

  • You must still self-isolate for 14 days. If you are required to go to a worksite during your period of self-isolation, you will use leave time. If you are working from home and able to perform your duties, you will be paid.

Is the Sailor Circus going to take place in April?

  • Please directly contact Sailor Circus regarding their performances. They are an outside organization not under the direction of Sarasota County Schools.

Is the district offering community service hours for students who volunteer with/at the district?

Can students volunteer with/at the district?

  • Not at this time.