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Alachua County delays start of the school year

The first bell for Alachua County Schools is set to ring in less than three weeks. Now, School Board Members are asking School District Staffers to re-evaluate their options ahead of the first day of school on August 24th.
The first bell for Alachua County Schools is set to ring in less than three weeks. Now, School Board Members are asking School District Staffers to re-evaluate their options ahead of the first day of school on August 24th.(WCJB)
Published: Aug. 12, 2020 at 11:50 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 12, 2020 at 2:03 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - School-age children will be home for just a little bit longer.

In a special meeting on Wednesday morning, the Alachua County School board voted 3-2 to delay the start of the school year to Aug. 31 - one week later than what was expected. Tina Certain and Leanatta McNealy were in dissent in the vote.

This decision comes days after a group of Alachua County teachers came together over the weekend to voice their concerns about how schools are reopening.

The teachers who came to protest say they’ve been paying attention to virtual school board meetings and are uncomfortable with the current plan to open schools.

“I don’t think the Alachua County schools should be opening. I don’t think its safe. If you’re looking at the stats Alachua County has an over 5% positivity rate and it’s actually been increasing over the past few weeks,” Shelton Wright, who is married to a teacher, said.

Some teachers, like Yvonne, are fearing for their lives.

RELATED STORY: Alachua County protest reopening of schools

“I think a lot of us are scared. If you have been listening to the school board meetings people have been calling in crying, and pleading for their lives saying that teaching is our livelihood,” Yvonne said. “This is how we live and you’re asking us to essentially choose between our careers and our lives and our families lives”

The teachers at the protest told TV20 they want the first month of school, or longer, to be held virtually - at least until Alachua County’s cases start declining.

According to Alachua County Director of Public Health Paul Myers, the county is prepared to cope with schools reopening. In an interview with TV20, he says students with COVID-like symptoms will have expedited tests as well as other students in the same class-room.

“There is no good data to inform us on sufficient mitigation strategies when it comes to the opening of schools when you have moderate community transmission,” Myers said. “In other words, above 5%, we just don’t have good data anywhere.”

With the school year schedule to start on Aug. 31, pre-planning is now set for Aug. 24.

Copyright 2020 WCJB. All rights reserved.

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