PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – Just one day after Pinellas County Schools reopened for students, district officials weighed in on what they saw during Tuesday’s school board meeting.
“As you know, yesterday was the first day of school and we were able to take a few shots of the students beginning the 2020, 2021 school year,” said a board member at Tuesday’s Pinellas County School Board meeting. Let me start out by saying how proud I am of our entire staff, we had a very successful day,” said Superintendent Dr. Michael Grego.
Board members discussed numbers gathered from day one of online learning. “Our attendance rate yesterday online was about 93/94 percent. We’ll continue to work with that attendance rate as parents are settling in,” said Dr. Grego. The board also discussed glitches that occurred just before classes began Monday morning.
“Fewer than .1 percent of the courses and students were not rostered correctly so we had over 600,000 sections if you could’ve believed that and we had fewer than 500 glitches,” said Dr. Grego.
Superintendent Dr. Grego says some issues happened because the districts virtual platform officials were supposed to widen the bandwidth to ensure a connection for students. “But there is, I’m just being honest with you, we are having a slow go of it and so are other districts so, we’re try to work through that. I think state-wide there’s a much larger demand on Florida Virtual than past years,” said Dr. Grego.
Some parents say they are pleased with the first day of school for their children, “As a husband and as a father, I have five children. Three are currently in the school system and I’m just here humbly just to say thanks for at least opening schools, thanks for giving us an opportunity to get back to education,” said one father who has three children in Pinellas County schools.
Other people close to the matter aren’t giving such glowing reviews. “We’re not ready yet,” said Nancy Velardi, President of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association. “The opening was not a success. Students were too close together for most of the day. Even though Pinellas County is no longer in a crisis, this does not mean that we are ready to open buildings full of people without possibly setting off a resurgence of new cases.”
And one board member suggested a backup plan in the case of a district-wide shut down. “I think we need advisement from the medical team on a threshold for what we should expect including metrics to close this district if the community spread increases,” said Dr. Nicole Carr, a Pinellas County School Board Member.
Superintendent Grego says buses had up to 44 students on board Monday morning. This averages two students a seat per bus while, he says, some had one student per seat. After receiving calls from parents requesting to transition their student to brick and mortar, he says those decisions will come at a later date.
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