Distance learning for Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten to end in Florida starting next year

Posted at 4:25 PM, Oct 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-23 18:37:24-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Many parents have made the tough decision to either keep their kids at home or send them back into the classroom.

But for some of the youngest students in our area, there will soon be no option.

A laugh and a thumbs up from Thessa Ledee as she sat in front of her laptop at home on Friday.

The 4-year-old is part of the Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten system, or VPK, a free state program designed to give children a jump start.

"She knows that at 8 a.m., her sister is going to be in school and she is going to be in school and she looks forward to that," said Rebecca Ledee, Thessa's mother.

But Thursday morning, Rebecca Ledee received an email and robocall from the School District of Palm Beach County saying that in just months, the option for children to attend the VPK program through distance learning will end.

"My concern is that she could be asymptomatic and could bring it back home to us and we could get infected, our families could get infected," Ledee said.

WPTV is told the decision comes from the state. And starting on Jan. 4 of next year, VPK students will only be able to return for in-person instruction.

"We do have somebody in our family that is immunocompromised and unfortunately if she goes back to school or is forced to go back to school we would basically have to quarantine ourselves again," said parent Anthony Taliento.

WPTV reached out to several VPK programs in our area. The owner of Whiz Kidz said that although she doesn’t offer a virtual option, she doesn’t think it’s fair the state is pushing kids back into schools with COVID-19 cases still rising.

For Thessa, her parents are now confused what to do next.

"It’s like, OK, you gutted me, you’ve taken away my options to provide the education my daughter needs," Ledee said.

WPTV reached out to the Florida Department of Education for an explanation on their decision and are still awaiting an answer.