Parents sound off as Orange County plans how to reopen for next school year

Orange County parents are weighing in on what they think the next school year should look like. 

Orange County Public Schools surveyed parents to ask what they think the return to school should look like next year. The district had 108,000 parents respond. 

  • 37% of parents would like students to return to the classroom with safety measures in place 
  • 18% of parents would like to continue distance learning 
  • 24% of parents would like to see a blend of classroom and distance learning 
  • 21% of parents are still unsure.  

“It shows us there’s no clear choice. Parents are really mixed right now in their initial feelings about returning to school,” said OCPS Communications Director, Superintendent Scott Howat. 

Elly Kennedy is one of the Orange County parents who is unsure. 

“I want them to go back,” Kennedy said. “I want them to have their experiences, but there’s the other part that I really think that I’m more happy that they’re safe, that their families are safe.” 

Parents are raising questions on how to reopen safely while following guidelines. 

“I don’t know that any school is really designed to give six feet of space anywhere,” Kennedy said. “The aisles aren’t much wider than a grocery store aisle and when you have 1,000 kids filtering through and half maybe at the same time, I just don’t know if there’s a way to stagger that.” 

The school district currently has groups going over results and getting feedback. 

“They’re going to gather info from parents, internally and externally, extra input,” said Howat. 

OCPS is also waiting on guidance from the Florida Department of Education. It’s still not clear if the school year will start in August or at a later date. 

“We’ll start making plans,” Howat said. “Operationally, academically. We will look at where we are as far as our workforce and all of those work groups will look at what they’re going to do for the coming year.” 

The district will be releasing another survey next week for parents and students to give feedback.