Watch: Bay District leaders hold news conference about Spring semester

Florida Coronavirus News

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Bay District leaders are scheduled to hold a news conference about the Spring semester at 10 a.m.

This comes after Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered schools to remain open for in-person instruction despite the rising number of coronavirus cases.

Bay District officials sent an email to teachers Friday announcing that the BayLink program would be canceled in January. Other online-only options remain open for students. You can read the full email from Superintendent Bill Husfelt below:

Good morning and Happy Friday!

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that I am proposing a change to our enrollment options for the second semester. I’ve heard from so many of you that the BayLink option is making teaching untenable, and the data is clear that remote learning students are struggling, and so it seems appropriate to recommend that we end BayLink after the end of the first semester. Hopefully, we do not have to bring it back in the future.

This will be my recommendation and it will be on the School Board’s agenda for Tuesday’s meeting. If you have strong feelings one way or the other, I encourage you to reach out to them before Tuesday.

I know that ending BayLink is not the right answer for the small number of students excelling through this option but I am grateful they can continue to attend 100 percent online through Bay Virtual School or through the FLVS Flex program/homeschool arrangement. Canvas will still be our universal learning platform (see attached graphic) and students quarantining will go there for work but won’t see live lessons anymore (of course you can still choose to post videos if that works best for you and your students).

We are going to continue to keep you in the loop, as always, but I want you to have this basic information BEFORE today’s press conference.  As you can see from the graphic attached, some things will change if BayLink sunsets and some things will not.

In case you missed the Governor’s press conference earlier this week, both he and DOE Commissioner Corcoran stressed the importance of our students being back in our brick and mortar schools. That’s not a surprise because we have always known that you work MAGIC in your classrooms and that your relationships with your students inspire them to achieve more than they ever thought possible. You’ve been doing your best in such difficult circumstances, and I applaud all of you for that, but it’s time to bring the students back inside your classrooms so you can directly help them.

National studies show that students are struggling with everything from reading to math by not attending brick and mortar campuses. We are seeing the same trends in our data and we’re very concerned that, despite your best efforts, our remote learning students are missing supports they clearly need. Our data also indicates that our schools are as safe as they possibly can be … the spread of Covid we see can be traced to community gatherings, sporting events and other off-campus gatherings.

As I mentioned earlier, I know that this email and graphic will not answer all of your questions but more information will be coming.  If you have planning this morning, you can watch the press conference live at 10:00 a.m. at https://www.bay.k12.fl.us/school-board-meetings. You can watch a recording later and we also plan to make a video just for you (to be sent out this afternoon). Your principals can also help answer any questions you have and your union reps are in the loop as well since we’ve been working with them all along.

I am not in control of this decision but I believe it has the board’s support. I hope this brings you a small measure of comfort and that it alleviates your worries and concerns about your BayLink students who are not doing well. Far too many of our seniors are struggling, along with other students, and we need to focus all of our efforts and energy on saving this year for them so that graduation doesn’t become yet another Covid casualty.

Thank you for all that you continue to do for our students … you are truly appreciated!

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