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Leon Schools To Purchase Tablets For All Students, Considers Extending Online Learning For Some Families Next Year

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Vernon Chan

The Leon County School district is trying to determine how many families will be willing to send their kids to school in the fall. The district has a 21-member task force to consider how to go about reopening schools. Superintendent Rocky Hanna says parents will need to signal their intent for the fall by mid-July.

“We go back to our parents and say, here’s the plan, parents what is your intent? How do you feel…about your child returning to school brick-and-mortar, or still wanting a distance learning platform or digital learning. And then we staff along those lines,” Hanna said during Tuesday night’s school board meeting.

The district will release more information in a Facebook live Thursday, June 4, at noon. Some students will be in physical classrooms come the fall, while others may stay home.

The district is also buying nearly 33,000 Chromebook tablets so that each child in the district, with the exception of pre-schoolers, can have one. The move is being precipitated by the coronavirus pandemic which saw schools shut down and switch to online and at-home learning.

“It was the right thing to do notwithstanding any pandemic. We should have done this even if we weren’t sent home for the last 9 weeks of the school year. It’s absolutely the right thing to do for moving our school district forward,” said Hanna.

The district plans to upload textbooks and learning materials onto the devices, but Hanna acknowledges officials are still trying to ensure every child can get online. During the last weeks of the school year, the district offered to pay for internet services for families without it.

The state has not yet released advice for districts when it comes to reopening for the fall. The state’s largest teachers union—the Florida Education Association—is calling for school grades and teacher evaluations to remain suspended during the upcoming school year.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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