While Florida has ordered schools to reopen despite the rise in Covid-19 cases, Jimbo Jackson, principal of Fort Braden School in Tallahassee is urging parents to opt for virtual learning for their kids.
“I think our greatest concern is the safety of our staff and our students and our connected school families. With our recent state mandate to have face-to-face and brick-and-mortar learning, we have extreme concerns,” he explained.
The school lost two active staff members of the school along with a relative of a staff member and a former employee to coronavirus, according to Jackson.
“We're no longer just a number and just a statistic,” he said. “It’s hit really close to home.”
Pointing to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for reopening schools and a high positivity rate among children under 18 that indicates high risk, Jackson says in-person instruction could pose health risks.
Jackson and his wife also contracted coronavirus in July, which has made him more aware of his role, he said.
“As a school principal and someone responsible for all of these folks, you know, in anticipation of nearly 450 kids and staff members returning to our campus on August 31st, we have a great concern about their safety. The last thing that I want is to have another employee or even worse, a child to become either seriously ill or possibly experience a fatal case of Covid-19.”
“Going through that personally and being fairly incapacitated for about 13 days has given me each more understanding,” he said. “As well as walking through the funerals and the memorial services with families of these three people that were very dear to us.”
Schools are a fundamentally social experience and children as young as four or five-year-old kindergarten students will have to be re-trained to not socialize, Jackson emphasized about in-person experience.
“To not have tag games or to not borrow supplies from each other, those are things that become really difficult to mitigate in a school social setting,” he said. “It will be a very difficult challenge.”