SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - School districts on the Suncoast are now preparing for what's next, as distance learning for the year comes to a close. Both Manatee and Sarasota County School Districts say they don't have any concrete plans, as of yet. Officials say a lot can happen between now and the beginning of the school year in August, so they're just starting to put together different options based off different scenarios.
“There’s still so many unknowns as we face the pandemic. There’s still more and more cases that are identified daily in our area. You might look at another part of Florida where they only have a number of cases to report at this time," Genelle Zoratti Yost, the Deputy Superintendent of the Manatee County School District, explained.
So does that mean remote learning continues? Well, as of right now, that's the plan for the remainder of this year. Summer learning camps look like they will also continue online, as school districts try to plan for August.
“If it isn’t back to business as usual, which it’s safe to say that we can pray and hope, there’s a high probability that there’s going to be some version that is going to be tweaked in what it once was, but we can evolve and we can adapt. That’s what we’ll do because the safety is going to be paramount before anything else," Sarasota County School Board member, Bridget Ziegler, tells us.
There's still a possibility that students will be back in the classrooms – but with CDC social distancing measures. So that's the next step… how will they keep that distance in the classrooms and throughout campuses? They're looking into maybe doing a blended model of learning where you're in school a few days a week, and you're learning virtually the other days.
“We’d have to figure out the schedule for that because then transportation challenges arise. You don’t want more than a number of students on a bus. Right now, that would be 10 if we were following the CDC guidelines," said Yost.
With both Manatee and Sarasota School Districts having more than 50,000 students, this becomes very difficult to manage.
“We’re very resilient and we’ll be able to figure it out and talk through our variable contingency plans and what those would be," Ziegler said, "but I think it’s very important that those be done publicly so families, employees and staff can listen in. They could give their concerns, but also evaluate what makes sense.”
The school districts say there is also discussion that Governor DeSantis might push back school to start after Labor Day, so all of that will play a factor in their decisions. Both counties hope to have more concrete plans by the end of June.