In any other year, August’s arrival means students and parents start to eagerly gear up for the school year ahead. As the onset of the 2020-2021 school year looms, however, many are wondering how best to navigate a world still dominated by COVID-19. This uncertainty applies as much to early childhood learning as to post-secondary schools. Future Ready Collier is keeping an eye on school reopening plans and safety precautions being adopted.
Collier County Public School Reopening
Collier County Public Schools have announced a 4-part solution, with families choosing the best option for their needs and circumstances. All students, regardless, will start school on August 31*. The school district has arranged for every student to have their own device. Depending on grade level, students may use a tablet or laptop. Details about the reopening plan are available here, with FAQS shared here. Students and staff on campus will be required to wear face masks and encouraged to wear protective eyewear. Complimentary masks, buffs, and safety glasses will be distributed. Gatherings and non-essential visits will be highly controlled, along with social distancing and cleaning procedures.
Two digital learning choices include CCPS Classroom Connect and eCollier Academy. Classroom Connect is structured and synchronous, meaning students’ days track along a set schedule as though they were on campus. This model is ideal for students who may choose to transition to on-campus learning later in the school year, or vice versa. As an alternative, eCollier Academy is an asynchronous digital learning platform. Some direct interaction with teachers and students is involved, but it requires students to work independently.
Parents choosing home education must meet reporting, record keeping, and evaluation parameters. No particular curriculum is mandated. Parents do not need to be certified teachers. However, parents do need to file their intent to home school. As a reminder, all parents, regardless of which learning option they choose, need to complete registration with the school district, which this year for the first time can be done fully online.
Colleges and Universities
Area colleges and universities are proceeding with their own reopening policies, as well as working to accommodate students whose post-secondary plans have shifted. At Florida SouthWestern State College, students have access to five different types of classes: traditional (on campus); blended (hybrid of online and on campus); online (fully remote and asynchronous); live online (virtual classroom at set time); and live flex (including both in-person and set digital classroom time). Similarly, Florida Gulf Coast University will offer different types of courses. FGCU is maintaining a webpage with regular updates about COVID-related preparation. Learning at Lorenzo Walker Technical College continues, with specific policies depending on the course of study, including some online options.
In addition to doing everything feasible to support current students, the schools are eager to offer resources to prospective or transferring students. If you a student currently pursuing higher education elsewhere, or whose original intentions have been forced to change, please contact one of these schools to learn about options for enrollment. In addition, financial support may still be available. Critically, if you are a recent (class of 2020) high school graduate who has not completed your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (aka, FAFSA), it’s a good idea to do so as soon as possible. There are free online video tutorials through Champions For Learning to help with those applications.
On the opposite end of the learning spectrum are the early childhood centers who serve kids from infancy until they are ready for kindergarten. As a regional resource, reference the Early Learning Coalition of Southwest Florida. The Early Learning Coalition keeps a webpage of COVID-related parent resources as well as an interactive map showing where childcare centers are open.
As students ready for the year to come, bear in mind any required school immunizations and screenings. Currently the Department of Health is requiring appointments to be made in advance. Clinics are located in East Naples and Immokalee. Both are open Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm. To reach the Naples office, call (239) 252-8595. To reach the Immokalee clinic, call (239) 252-7300. There is no charge for children ages 0 to 18.
You can also contact Healthcare Network for well-child visits, immunizations, and screenings. Doctors and pediatric nurse practitioners on staff and see children from birth through adolescence. Patients are seen regardless of ability to pay. Children’s care is provided at several Healthcare Network sites throughout Collier County and appointments are currently requested.
* This post originally referenced August 19 as the first day of classes. On July 28, Collier County Public Schools announced the first day of classes has been postponed to August 31.
Prepared by Caroline Ridgway of C1B1 Communications.