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Parent deadline to decide on virtual school for kids in St. Lucie County extended 5 days

75% of the 34,000 responses so far indicate students will return to campus
Posted at 9:34 PM, Jul 15, 2020

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Parents now have added time to decide if they're ready to send their children back on campus.

The original deadline was set to expire Wednesday night. It has now been pushed back to July 20.

Superintendent Wayne Gent said he and his team wanted to give families more time to make what he called a big decision.

"We just want to make sure that our parents know that this second option is nothing what it looked like last year," said Gent. "Because sometimes you know, you may have seen your teacher, maybe not, attendance could have been sporadic sometimes. This is going to be a traditional school schedule except that you're at home doing it."

If students decide to take the virtual option, they will need to log on during normal school hours as if they were actually at school.

Teachers will not have to teach both traditional and virtual at the same time but may alternate between the two throughout their day if they teach several periods like at a middle or high school.

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According to Gent, 75% of the 34,000 responses indicate parents want their kids to return to campus.

Gent said around 6,000 have yet to respond and will be automatically enrolled in the traditional model if they don't decide by July 20.

Rhonda Whyte said her 7th-grade daughter will be staying at home and attending school online at least for the first nine weeks.

"The school is only so big in size," said Whyte. "The classes are really overcrowded, how are you going to separate it like that?"

Gent said students can swap between traditional and virtual every nine weeks and that both groups will be following the same lesson plans.

"It's a very tough decision to make because what about the one with kindergartners and first graders that you leave them for an hour the parents have to go to work," said Whyte. "What about the single moms that have to leave the house, like what do you do with them?"

Gent said there will likely be assigned seating on school busses and that the windows will be down to help increase ventilation.

He said students will likely be sitting in every other row and that they will be required to wear masks both on the bus and at school.