Reopening Highlands County Schools Frequently Asked Questions

Table of Contents

General

Now that we know what the options are, what comes next?

Take time to familiarize yourself with the options, and then choose the option that works best for your student. After reading the descriptions of the options, you can review the Frequently Asked Questions. When you are ready to make your choice, go to Reopening Highlands County Schools page and click the Click here to Select an Option link. If you have more than one student, please select an option for each student. The deadline for making your choice is July 10.

Will parents and volunteers be allowed on campus?

Yes, parents and visitors are allowed on campus: however, temperatures will be taken prior to entering campus and no one with a temperature of 100.4 or above will be allowed on campus.

Learning Model Options

Once I choose an option, can I change my mind later?

A continuous and consistent learning environment is best for student success. However, we understand that parents and students might have compelling reasons to seek a transition from one option to another. Students may move from the face-to-face traditional model to Remote Online Learning, or vice versa, at any time. If a student chooses to move from Highlands Virtual School to one of the other models, or from one of the other models to Highlands Virtual School, that change must be made within 28 days from the start of the semester.

Will each option offer the same classes?

Core classes will be available under all three options. The Remote Online Learning and Highlands Virtual School options will have a selection of electives. These may differ from courses available in the traditional face-to-face model.

Can Highlands Virtual School students take electives?

Yes, Highlands Virtual School does offer electives, though these offerings may differ from the elective offerings in the traditional setting. A list of courses offered at HVS is available on the Highlands Virtual School website on the HVS 6-12 page.

Is a Highlands Virtual School student able to participate in the graduation of his/her designated school?

Highlands Virtual School is a district school and students transfer their enrollment from their designated school to HVS upon registering. Highlands Virtual School has its own graduation ceremony and the standard diploma is issued from Highlands Virtual School.

Is the Remote Online Learning option identical to the distance learning we experienced during the final months of the school year?

No, the Remote Online Learning model will not be identical to the end-of-year distance learning model. Based on feedback from students and parents, we have a clearer idea of which factors contribute to greater student success. Those factors include more frequent real-time interaction between students and teachers. Also, the Remote Online Learning option will incorporate standard school schedules and bell times, leading to a learning experience more connected to teachers.

If I choose the Remote Online Learning or Highlands Virtual School option, will I need to have my own computer or laptop?

No, as we did during Distance Learning for the last months of school, the district will provide Chromebooks to students, and when needed internet hot spots will be provided as well.

If I choose the Remote Online Learning option, will my student be able to participate in athletics?

Yes, Remote Online Learning students will have the same opportunities to participate in athletics at their designated school.

If I choose the Highlands Virtual School option, will my student be able to participate in athletics?

Yes, Sections 1002.20(18) and 1006.15, F.S., state full-time virtual students’ rights to participate in extracurricular activities, and outline the students’ duties to maintain eligibility for their activities. Arrangements must be made with the school they are zoned to attend.

Has the start date for the 2020-2021 school year changed?

No, we fully expect to start the school year on August 11.

Will AP courses be offered in all three options?

Yes, AP courses will be offered though the traditional face-to-face model, Remote Online Learning, and at Highlands Virtual School.

How will Physical Education classes and recess be impacted at elementary school?

Physical Education teachers will be planning outside activities that can be accomplished while social distancing and limiting close interaction with others. We are also looking at limiting the numbers of students in PE and on the recess area at one time. Using hand sanitizer and/or washing hands immediately coming from PE or recess will also be part of our process.

Back to Table of Contents

Health and Safety

Will masks be mandatory for students and adults?

Students and adults will not be required to wear masks or cloth face coverings, but they are certainly allowed and encouraged.

If masks are optional and social distancing not feasible in all school settings, how will you prevent spread?

Every student and adult that desires to wear a face covering will be able to. We are strongly encouraging masks or cloth face coverings in hallways and while students ride the bus. We are also limiting large groups of students assembling together. Hand sanitizer stations have been added in each room and in common areas and we are increasing the numbers of custodians and adding hours so that additional cleaning can take place.

Will students be expected to socially distance?

In many school settings, students will be socially distanced to the extent possible. At the elementary school level, where social distancing will be extremely difficult, students will spend most of the school day interacting only with students in their class.

What steps will be taken to ensure that surfaces are clean in classrooms?

Custodial staff will clean frequently touched surfaces throughout the day and conduct overall cleanings at the conclusion of every day. Other non-custodial staff members will be expected to do their part keeping surfaces clean, and will be provided appropriate supplies for additional cleaning. Teachers will have access to cleaning supplies for their classroom.

What other steps are being taken to ensure a healthy environment?

The school district will collaborate with parents in educating students on the importance of hand washing, hygiene, and social distancing. Hand sanitizer will be made available in classrooms and workplaces.

What will my student’s school do if a classmate or staff member is infected with COVID-19?

We will send a clear message to parents and staff that if they are exhibiting any symptoms, they should not come to school or report to work. If a student exhibits symptoms at school, they will be taken to a location at the school clinic set aside for possible COVID-19 cases and their parent or guardian will be notified to take them home or to visit a medical professional.

Will teachers be given additional sick time if they are not allowed to come to school due to a temperature?

There is up to two weeks of COVID-19 sick leave for which employees can apply. Beyond that, teachers also have sick leave that they earn each school year and a bank of hours from unused time from any previous year.

What standards will you use to determine the need to close schools again?

We meet with our local Health Department leaders on a weekly basis and are also in constant communication with the Florida Department of Education and the Emergency Operations Center. That type of decision would not be made in isolation but with multiple agencies providing input.

Back to Table of Contents

Exceptional Student Education

How will students with disabilities be served when schools reopen?

We want to make the transition back to school in the fall as smooth as possible for our students with disabilities and the school district is working on plans for opening. Our goal is to do this in a safe manner while addressing the needs of all staff and students. Parents should carefully review the three options for returning to school and then work together with the IEP committee to determine the needs of the individual student.

How will IEP meetings be handled if I choose Highlands Virtual School for my child?

Highlands Virtual School IEP meetings are just like IEP meetings in the traditional school setting. The IEP committee and parents work together to determine student needs, etc. and create the best possible plan to help students succeed.

My child has an IEP and I have health concerns about school reopening. How do I share my concerns with the school?

There may be students with a current IEP with medical needs which may concern parents as they begin planning for the return to school. If a parent feel there is still a medical risk for their child, they can contact the Exceptional Student Education Department at (863)471-5583. We will connect parents with the appropriate staff to provide support, and plan with them to provide appropriate educational opportunities for their children.

Back to Table of Contents

Meals

What steps will be taken to limit exposure in the school cafeteria?

Outdoor dining will be encouraged where appropriate. Indoor dining will be limited in an effort to promote social distancing. Hand sanitizer will be available in all dining areas.

Transportation

What steps will be taken to limit exposure on school buses?

Students will have their temperatures taken prior to boarding the school bus. Parents of elementary school students are to remain at the bus stop until their child is cleared to board. Any child with a temperature of 100.4 or higher will not be allowed to attend school. Masks are encouraged to be worn.