Pinellas County Schools releases draft of reopening plan

When students return to the classroom next month, the landscape of campus life will be much different, according to a draft copy of a Return to School plan that Pinellas County Schools unveiled July 9.

LARGO — When students return to the classroom next month, the landscape of campus life will be much different, according to a draft copy of a Return to School plan that Pinellas County Schools unveiled July 9.

The majority of students and teachers will be required to wear masks at all times. The classrooms will be larger, but with more space between the desks. Lunch times will be staggered to allow for social distancing.

These are just a few details that will set the upcoming year apart from any in the past.

On July 14, Pinellas County School Board members will discuss the plan that will go into effect in August.

In consultation with local hospitals, the health department, and with input from more than 43,000 Pinellas families, the document offers sweeping directives to maximize social distancing, even as cases of COVID-19 continue an upward trend throughout the state.

The 37-page document lays out plans and procedures for returning to the classroom, as well as options for families that don’t feel comfortable sending their children to a brick-and-mortar school.

Parents will have three options for academic instruction:

• The traditional model where students will return to classrooms;

• Instruction via MyPCS Online, a virtual classroom that will include school district curriculum with lessons developed and taught by local teachers in kindergarten through 12th grades;

• Florida Virtual School, a state-based program that includes curriculum taught by Pinellas Virtual Schools teachers and utilizes the Canvas Learning Management platform.

Parents have until 5 p.m. Monday, July 27, to select an academic platform.

The plan also addresses procedures for prekindergarten, kindergarten and students with special needs.

Not only will instruction differ from previous years, school life will be dramatically altered as well.

Students who report not feeling well will be taken to a special nurse’s station for evaluation.

The district will limit campus and facility visits by nonessential visitors. There will be no scheduled field trips in the first quarter, and there will be no PTA-sponsored events planned for the first quarter.

The district has issued a cleaning manual that focuses on cleaning and sanitizing surfaces and common, high-risk areas on campus through the targeted use of CDC- and EPA-approved disinfectants.

The district is working on a reopening website for families.