Pasco school district sticking with its plans

Superintendent Kurt Browning released an online video July 9 with an update on the district’s plans to get back to school in August. He also provided an updated on his health after testing positive for COVID-19 in late June

LAND O’ LAKES – As if there hasn’t been enough stress and anxiety surrounding the fast-approaching upcoming school year, directives from the state this week to open all public schools for in-person classes five days a week didn’t exactly smooth things over.

On July 9, Pasco County Schools Superintendent Kurt Browning released a brief video online to address the district’s plans moving forward. In short, he reiterated that the district’s plans released last month remain the same.

Parents had until July 8 to select one of three schooling options for their children — traditional in-school learning, mySchool Online or virtual school through Pasco eSchool.

“The majority chose to return to the traditional school setting,” Browning said. “Nearly seven out of 10 chose that option. And a majority of our staff declared their intent to return in person to school or to the workplace.

“To those of you, parents and staff, who are choosing to return to school or the workplace, I want to say, we’ve got your back. Your health and safety are our No. 1 priority. Now that we have a clearer idea of how many students and staff are returning to campus, we are hard at work putting out plans in place for a successful reopening.”

For families who chose online options, Browning reassured them that nothing has changed.

“To those parents who chose the online options, I think you’re going to be pleased,” Browning said. “We learned a lot during distance learning at the end of last school year. MySchool Online will be more structured and your student will have a lot more face time with their teachers.

“For those of you who chose eSchool, I can tell you that Pasco eSchool has been doing this for years and they are nationally recognized for delivering quality online education.”

Given the rise in positive COVID-19 test results locally and throughout the state, Browning stated that the district will remain flexible depending upon changing realities.

“I don’t have to tell you that the situation remains fluid,”

the superintendent said. “The number of positive tests has increased dramatically since we announced our reopening plan and that’s a serious concern. But you know what? I wouldn’t change our basic plans. Our three options remain the best possible options. We have fine-tuned them and we will continue to do so as circumstances change. Our plans are flexible enough to respond to changing circumstances.”

Browning recommended parents and school staff keep an eye on the district’s reopening webpage, pascoschools.org/reopening, for updates.

Prior to Browning’s July 9 online video, he mentioned that parents who chose the in-school or mySchool Online options may alter their preference in the future.

“If you choose Option 1 or Option 2 — which is the traditional school or the mySchool Online, the more structured virtual option — there is nothing that precludes you from changing that option throughout the school year,” Browning said during a July 7 telephonic School Board meeting. “The only thing that you would probably be locked into is if you chose the third option, which is the Pasco eSchool model, and that’s because curriculum is different and funding is different and it really operates as a separate entity out there.”

Browning closed his July 9 online video with an update on his personal health, as he tested positive for COVID-19 in late June.

“I want to thank everyone for the well-wishes,” he said. “As you may have heard, I tested positive for COVID-19 and it really knocked me out for a couple weeks. I will tell you from experience, it is a serious disease and I am more committed than ever — we are more committed than ever — to do everything we can to keep our students and staff healthy and safe.”