PCPS Assembles School Reopening Task Force

PCPS Assembles School Reopening Task Force

For Schools, Reopening
Polk County Public schools news release graphic.

Polk County Public Schools has created a task force that will assist with planning for school to resume amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have a lot of very important decisions to make, and those decisions will deeply affect the lives of our students, employees and families,” said Deputy Superintendent John Hill.

At the direction of Superintendent Byrd, we’ve assembled this task force of individuals, who represent a wide range of disciplines and areas of expertise, to assist us in our planning. We want to make sure we are making the best decisions we possibly can for our school district.”

The task force includes:

Polk County School Board Chair Lori Cunningham
Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd
Deputy Superintendent John Hill
Acting Chief Academic Officer Michelle Townley
Assistant Superintendent for Support Services Rob Davis
Associate Superintendent for Human Resources Services Teddra Porteous
Associate Superintendent for Information Systems and Technology Tina Barrios
Senior Director of Public Relations & Strategic Partnerships Rachel Pleasant
Senior Coordinator of Media Relations Jason Geary
Polk Education Association President Stephanie Yocum
AFSCME Local 2227 President Larry Milhorn
Senior Manager of Prevention, Health and Wellness Audrey Kelley
Polk Vision Executive Director Kim Long
District Advisory Committee Chair Josh Beck
Florida Department of Health in Polk County Director Dr. Joy Jackson
ESE District Advisory Committee Chair Sarah Frederick
Central Florida Health Care Pediatrician Jennifer Glisson
Lakeland Regional Health Pediatrician Nicole Hinds
Wahneta Elementary School Principal Nildalis Caraballo
Lake Gibson Middle School Principal Alain Douge
Laurel Elementary School Acting Principal Rodrick Gray
Fort Meade Middle-Senior High School Principal Amy Hardee
Lakeland High School Principal Art Martinez
Lakeland Highlands Middle School Principal Edgar Santiago


The task force will meet regularly to discuss and develop plans for reopening school in the fall. As it awaits guidance from the governor’s office and Florida Department of Education, PCPS is planning for three scenarios: physically reopening school with increased health and safety measures, continuing distance learning, and using a hybrid approach that combines in-person and distance learning.

As decisions are made for the reopening of school, information will be shared on the district’s website, social media accounts, and via its automated telephone and email system.

Students, employees, parents and members of the public are able to share their opinions on reopening school by taking the district’s Return-to-School Safety Survey at polkschoolsfl.com. The survey will be open through June 12.