PORT ST. JOE, Fla. (WMBB) — Empty hallways will soon be buzzing with students once again throughout Gulf District Schools.
“We missed that last quarter of school with them,” said Port St. Joe High School Assistant Principal, Sissy Godwin. “We’re anxious to have them back.”
All Gulf County schools are set to reopen for in-person learning on August 10th; and Port St. Joe junior Shadavia Hudgins said on Tuesday that she has mixed feelings about it.
“I’m excited to go back,” Hudgins said. “But I am still kind of in shock about going back or nervous about going back.”
She’s not alone; many parents said they felt the same way.
Others said it’s time for students to go back as long as schools take appropriate precautions.
“I do believe their temperature needs to be checked, things need to be done,” said a Port St. Joe resident whose grandchildren are enrolled in Gulf District Schools. “But I do believe they need to go back and be together and have some normalcy in their lives.”
Superintendent Jim Norton said they’re doing everything they can to make school as safe as possible amid the pandemic.
“I think we’re going to do a yeoman’s job of being very proactive in keeping ours the cleanest and safest they’ve ever been,” Norton said.
That includes new air filtration systems and antiviral ultra violet lights installed at all Gulf District Schools, as well as increased sanitation efforts and temperature checks. He said while they won’t be enforcing a mask mandate, masks will be encouraged.
“We are going to have them readily available,” Norton said. “[We’ll] strongly encourage our students, faculty and staff to utilize them.”
He added that parents and students who want to continue distance-learning can do so, and they’re prepared to go back to county-wide distance-learning should the need arise.
“We are going to be issuing devices to every student,” said Godwin.
She said that for now, they’re hopeful and excited to have students back in the classrooms.
“There’s no substitute for a teacher in a room with their student,” she said.