Message from the Superintendent, December 7

Dear SJCSD Parents and Guardians,

Last Monday, the Florida Department of Education Commissioner Mr. Richard Corcoran released a new Emergency Order (EO) to guide school districts through the second semester of the 2020-2021 school year. We are appreciative of the financial protection and the academic program guidelines defined in the EO that will be used during this unprecedented time.

For the second semester in St. Johns County schools, parents will continue to have the ability to have their children served in the same model that they used in the first semester. It has become increasingly apparent that students are best served in the school building with face-to-face instruction. However, we respect that some students are being served in a Distance Learning format due to individual circumstances and may continue to utilize this option. If students have been unsuccessful in the distance learning environment, we will recommend a return to brick and mortar/face-to-face learning.

There are several lessons learned from the first semester of the school year. First, early in the school year all students were being negatively impacted by the constant movement of students from one instructional model to another. For this reason, we are asking that all students remain in the instructional option they have selected through the end of the school year.

Secondly, when teachers are simultaneously teaching brick and mortar and distance learning students, both groups of students may not be receiving the optimal instruction. Our teachers are among the best, but it is not reasonable in dual platform classrooms to expect the pace and fluid nature of the class to proceed without disruption or delays. We will be reviewing teacher assignments and where possible, minimizing dual platform classes.

Lastly, we know this has been a challenging year for students, staff, and families. We are designing intensive instructional support for students who are having difficulty this year. As the second semester progresses, schools will communicate directly with students and families regarding additional instructional and support services.

After we complete the first semester on January 25, 2021, Wednesday early dismissal will return to a one-hour early release instead of a two-hour early release that we observed during this semester. Additionally, in the second semester, several important assessments are administered that require face-to face testing. This will require distance learning students to attend the school to complete these exams. Schools will provide more information as it becomes available.

We have been in communication with our local Department of Health regarding the CDC’s recently updated quarantine guidance. Based on the advisement of the Department of Health, we will be implementing the new guidelines which may reduce quarantine time frames in most cases. You will be receiving further information on the changes from your child’s school.

In closing, I would like to thank you for your continued support and understanding during the school year. We look forward to a successful and memorable second semester of the school year.

Sincerely,

Tim Forson
Superintendent
St. Johns County School District