8,000 Polk students head back to in-person classes

The alarm bell came as a bit of a shock to a lot of Polk County kids Wednesday morning. After months of e-learning, 8,000 children in Polk just went back to face-to-face learning in brick-and mortar-schools.

Gabriel Alvarado, 7, was one of them.

“I felt comfortable sending him back now,” his mom Jennifer told FOX 13.

A lot of parents apparently feel the same way.

“We have re-opened schools with very stringent safety precautions,” said Rachel Pleasant, director of communications for the Polk School District. “There are families that wanted to give it some time, and see what happened. They feel more comfortable to send their children back now.”

Another factor, according Pleasant, is that e-learning didn’t work well for everyone.

Some parents complain that it takes up too much of their time supervising their kids. Others say their children did not learn as much as they would have in a traditional classroom.

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As more kids return to class, so will teachers and other staffers.

That is a problem for some people, according to Stephanie Yocum, president of the Polk Education Association. She says it puts people with underlying medical issues, who are more vulnerable to COVID-19, in a tough spot.

“Are they going to risk it and come back into the building, because they can’t afford not to financially?” she said. “Or are they going to leave the profession because they have weighed the options because it’s not worth the risk?”

Soon, the remaining e-learners  all across the state may be back in class. The Florida Department of Education is considering getting rid of distance learning altogether and bringing kids back in January.