HENDRY COUNTY – After a Florida judge granted a temporary injunction, on Monday, July 24, against an order from Gov. Ron DeSantis requiring school districts to reopen brick and mortar schools during the novel coronavirus pandemic many students, parents, teachers, and school staff were hopeful that this might change plans for their local schools. However, the date for Hendry County Schools is set for Monday, August 27.
Different families and teachers have chosen different options for attending the 2020-21 school year, weighing out the risks and benefits, and all hoping they’ve made the best choice. What is best can vary for each teacher and student depending on their situation at home, childcare and work schedules, internet access, pre-existing health conditions within the home, finances, and food insecurity.
To address food insecurity and hunger, Sodexo, the Hendry County Schools food program, has made arrangements for any enrolled students to obtain regular meals whether they are distance learning or returning to brick and mortar schooling.
Several parents, who asked not to be named in order to keep their children out of the spotlight, commented on how worried they were to send their children back to school. Many explained they simply did not have a choice.
Local, long time teacher, from Country Oaks Elementary in LaBelle, Stella Luckey, posted on Facebook recently, “For those who don’t know, I have stepped away from teaching art this year to be an online teacher. I made this decision with advice from my doctor. I’m excited about the new adventure. Second grade is the one grade I have not taught in elementary. It will feel good to work with only 21 students as opposed to 700+ students. I feel confident I can do a good job being an online teacher but just not ready for Monday morning quite yet …”
Luckey also shared a few words from an unknown/anonymous teacher, “Here’s some unsolicited advice for all parents of school age children: Grace upon grace upon grace. School is going to be difficult, different, and some things will be inconvenient. You’re going to have tech issues, and someone will likely tell you the wrong information at least once. There will be procedures you don’t like.”
The unnamed teacher added, “I just wish you could peek inside schools. You’d see teachers and administrators working 14+ hours to make it work, somehow, only to have guidelines change suddenly. Imagine putting together a giant puzzle with no picture and the pieces keep changing shape. You’d see teachers try to take in hours upon hours of training and use new programs, figure out new schedules and new procedures and make it all align to standards, follow health precautions, and keep it accessible and I can confidently say across the board, teachers and school staff everywhere are overwhelmed. Every grade level, every itinerant, custodian, and bus driver. Everyday I’ve seen eyes brimming with tears. I’ve also seen a lot of determination. Teachers love their kids. They miss them. They worry about them. They are trying their absolute best to figure it out and make this a great school year, even if we are (as the saying goes) ‘building this plane while we fly it.’”
Teachers, staff, parents and their children have a confusing and difficult year ahead. Many may not be in agreement about how to handle this pandemic, but most can agree that grace, kindness, and positivity is imperative for the community during these trying times. As several have said, they might even be the most important lessons children learn this year.