Polk County Public Schools is expected to delay the start of the 2020-21 school year at least until Aug. 24 due to the rising transmission of COVID-19 cases in the community.
Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd said she remains in constant contact with the Florida Department of Health in Polk County, and said it is necessary to delay the start of the school year because it isn’t safe to physically reopen schools at this time. The school year was scheduled to begin on Aug. 10.
The School Board will vote at tonight’s meeting to adjust the school year calendar accordingly. (Update: The Aug. 24 delay was approved. The updated 2020-21 calendar is available here.)
“We are trending upward with the rise of COVID-19 cases, not only in the state but right here in Polk County,” Byrd said. “At this time, I do not feel it is safe to physically reopen schools on Aug. 10. We need to delay the opening of school at least until Aug. 24. We will continue to monitor the situation with health officials, and if the spread of the virus remains high, we can further delay the physical reopening of our brick-and-mortar schools if necessary.”
Teachers will begin undertaking some professional development on Aug. 17.
For the upcoming school year, Polk County Public Schools is planning to offer three distinct learning formats, giving families the ability to choose the one that best meets their needs.
Parents must register their children for one of these three learning options. The deadline to make a selection is July 27.
Here is an overview of our three learning options for the 2020-21 school year:
– Campus Learning — Students return to campus and interact in person with teachers and classmates. Various health and safety protocols will be put into place. Students will receive standards-based instruction from a certified teacher. There will be structured class times. Transportation and meals will be provided.
– Campus eSchool — Students remain enrolled in their zoned, choice, or magnet school of acceptance, but they participate in online learning. Students will be expected to log in at a certain time, and there will be specified times for various subjects such as math, science and language arts. Parents serve as learning coaches and monitor students on completing their assignments. For planning purposes, we are asking parents to make a quarterly commitment to eSchool, if they determine this is the learning format that is best for them and their child.
– Polk Virtual School — Students enroll in PCPS’ longstanding virtual school program with online lessons taught by PCPS teachers. Students work at their own pace and can set their own schedule. Time management and self-motivation are essential. Parents serve as learning coaches and monitor students on completing their assignments. For planning purposes, we are asking that families who select Polk Virtual School make a semester-long commitment.