Florida Education Association Marks The One-Year Anniversary Of COVID-19 School Closures
The Florida Education Association held a virtual news conference on Friday, March 12, marking the one-year anniversary of the statewide closure of public schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last year as the virus spread it was decided, on March 13, that schools would be closed down. This caused many teachers to reimagine what learning looked like overnight.
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For teachers like Latonya Starks, an elementary school teacher in Lee County, that meant making sure her students still felt connected during a time that made learning difficult.
“We don’t want them feeling broken when it comes to education because they’re not going to be able to learn anything if they don’t feel like that part of them is cared for,” she said.
Starks, who contracted the virus herself, tried to make the best of the situation even after schools opened last fall.
“When we started the school year though just the idea of building this community with my kids, and teaching them how to use their masks properly and how to clean properly, I really and truly wanted to make sure they understood that they weren’t fearful but also understood how to operate in this environment,” Starks said.
Also on the call was Orange County school bus driver Clyde Mitchell — he said that it has been hard to keep students socially distant and that he constantly has to remind them that they have to wear their masks.
“We constantly have to clean our bus every time we drop off at school. I sanitize my bus at least four times a day,” he said.
Mitchell said that bus drivers have been providing students with hand sanitizers and masks if the students don’t have their own.
FEA President Andrew Spar remarked how last year, before the pandemic hit hard, Gov. Ron DeSantis declared 2020 the “Year of the Teacher.”
He also announced that the FEA is launching a new ad campaign in hopes that lawmakers will more strongly support public schools, their staff, teachers and students this year.