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Pasco Schools Extend Deadline To Weigh In On Three Learning Options

So far, respondents have favored a traditional environment  for reopening Pasco Schools.
Pasco County Schools Facebook Page
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The Pasco County School District has extended the deadline for people to weigh in on fall options for returningstudents through Wednesday, July 8.

The original deadline was July 1, but the district noted that an increase in coronavirus cases could cause parents and students to change their minds about their choices.

A post on the district’s Facebook page received hundreds of comments.

The post included a chart showing just over 75 percent of respondents so far favored a traditional return to campus rather than online options.

Some commented that the chart was manipulative and could sway peoples’ opinions towards the traditional option:

  • “Not sure why that graph is there. Parents don’t need peer pressure to make this decisions. The over abundance of traditional is because it’s easier for them. So many have not chosen because they are having a difficult time deciding with numbers going up and also listening to more information about eschool and myschool”
  • "Does anyone else find this pie chart manipulative? I mean it's not even the 1st yet. Obviously those concerned will be waiting as long as possible to make a decision so they wouldn't be reflected in this chart. This is results before all results are in."

Others said they appreciated the district’s transparency:

  • “I think is good to know what the numbers are. Some might change their decision base on these numbers. I haven't decide yet but leaning towards traditional but might change my mind base on these numbers and how the situation progress. We should do what we consider best, no peer pressure”
  • "This will actually help me make my decision... I think it's good to know, that way parents who are on the fence can decide if they want to be part of the roughly 3/4 who are opting to send their kids."

Many said they were glad the deadline was extended:

  • “I am beyond torn. Mom guilt has been so heavy this last week. Thank you for extending it because the anxiety of choosing in the next 48 hours was mentally wearing on me.”
  • “Thank you for extending the deadline and the additional information you will be releasing on July 1st!”
  •  “Ufff !!!thank you for more time, it is hard to choose but things are not getting better”

Most common, though, were questions  - on a wide variety of topics, ranging from details on implementation, health concerns, and timelines to state decisions on education:

  • “I understand the schools need advance notice to prepare, but how can you reasonably expect parents to make an informed decision this early, and then to be “locked in” to that decision for a whole semester? Who knows how things will look in the next 6 months?”
  • "any word on school sports? My son starts football conditioning this week but it's very conservative given covid restrictions. I'm not sure how they can play an actual game and socially distance at the same time."
  • "Now that the county is requiring masks, have you reconsidered requiring mask use in the classroom, where it will be impossible to really social distance?"

On Wednesday, the district plans to publish a “Family Information Guide for ReOpening", which may help address some of the questions.

Directly beneath the school options survey post was another post announcing that the in-person graduation ceremonies which were originally to have taken place at Tampa’s Yeungling Center in August, had been rescheduled for July 17 through July 31, mostly outdoors at the Pasco schools’ stadiums.

Last Monday, the district announced that 61-year-old Superintendent Kurt Browning had contracted COVID-19. Browning has been self-isolating since then.

Pasco County’s school year begins on August 10.

Copyright 2020 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

Lisa Peakes is the local host of NPR's All Things Considered on WUSF 89.7.