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Lee County Educators Express Concerns About School Reopening Plans

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Stefanie DeMichele
Eva Ruiz, Carolyn Staehle, Kevin Daly, and Susan Patti.

Schools across Florida closed down back in mid March as the new coronavirus began spreading. Schools developed remote learning programs on the fly, and students finished out the school year from home. The School District of Lee County has been working on its reopening plans for the fall semester for months, but as the outbreak continued to spread there was no major focus being placed on bringing back students for full time, five days a week schooling. But, that recently changed recently after Florida Department of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran issued an emergency order requiring all brick and mortar schools to open for at least five days a week. The current plan now gives parents the choice between full time, in school learning, and several remote learning options that include the currently-existing Lee Virtual School, and what's being called Lee Home Connect.

We’re joined by a panel of educators who are members of a new group called Lee Educators for Safe Schools. They describe themselves as a “union supported group of Lee educators and allies uniting to solely express our concerns about reopening schools safely during the pandemic. The goal is to ensure safety for school staff, students, and the community. We are apolitical.”

The group’s first advocacy event, a Peaceful Car Parade Rally, is this Friday afternoon starting at 4:30.

Guests:

  • Carolyn Staehle teaches 2nd Grade at Allen Park Elementary School.
  • Susan Patti is a Guidance Counselor at Allen Park Elementary.
  • Eva Ruiz works with students who are deaf and hard of hearing at Fort Myers Middle School.
  • Kevin Daly is president of the Teachers Association of Lee County...Kevin, thanks for your time as well.
Mike Kiniry is producer of Gulf Coast Live, and co-creator and host of the WGCU podcast Three Song Stories: Biography Through Music. He first joined the WGCU team in the summer of 2003 as an intern while studying Communication at Florida Gulf Coast University. 
Julie Glenn is the News Director and the host of Gulf Coast Live. She joined the WGCU team in November of 2016 to expand the Gulf Coast Live call-in radio show from once a week to five days a week.  Since then, the show has been recognized in state and regional competitions and has featured artists, political leaders, historians, environmental experts, doctors, local reporters, and national and international scholars. After leading the station's award-winning coverage of Hurricane Irma in September of 2017, Julie was named Interim News Director. In January of 2018, she launched WGCU's first podcast: Grape Minds.