After a nine-hour meeting, Orange County School Board tables vote on school reopening until Friday morning


Orange County School Board Chair Teresa Jacobs on Tuesday - SCREENSHOT VIA ORANGE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS/YOUTUBE
  • Screenshot via Orange County Public Schools/YouTube
  • Orange County School Board Chair Teresa Jacobs on Tuesday

The Orange County Public School Board met for a marathon nine-hour session on Tuesday to decide on a reopening model for public schools in the county, and a last-minute proposal to move back the first day of school from Aug. 10 to Aug. 21.

No votes or decisions ultimately came out the meeting on these two key issues. The School Board voted to table the meeting at around 9:30 p.m. (with some technical issues hampering proceedings) and to reconvene on Friday morning at 9 a.m. to further debate these two reopening issues and make their final determinations.

Throughout nearly seven hours of public comment during the meeting, by phone and in person, speakers were passionate on the subject of reopening safely, with a number of OCPS teachers and concerned parents and citizens presenting their cases eloquently, emotionally and, at times, heatedly, in a clear sign of just how high the stakes are on these decisions.

Under consideration during this meeting were three possible models for reopening schools in Orange County: face-to-face, virtual, and "innovative learning."

Face-to-face would be an attempt at a full return, with classes in person five days a week, but with new social distancing, hygiene and mask-wearing rules. The virtual option would be for students to enroll in the Orange County Virtual School and take classes through their interface. The final option is dubbed innovative learning. In this model, also known as OCPS@LaunchEd@Home, the school day would be livestreamed and scheduled similarly to in-person classes. The teacher would instruct from a classroom with students viewing and learning at home, and students would remain enrolled at their respective schools. There is also an option to have some students attending their classes in-person as part of this model.

The Orange County School Board meeting on Tuesday - SCREENSHOT VIA ORANGE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS/YOUTUBE
  • Screenshot via Orange County Public Schools/YouTube
  • The Orange County School Board meeting on Tuesday
Though many board members seemed to be leaning away from straight face-to-face instruction and reacting more favorably toward the hybrid innovative learning and virtual models, we'll have to wait until Friday to see how the school year will play out in Orange County.

The archived video of this meeting can be viewed on the OCPS YouTube Channel. The minutes and agenda from this meeting will be made available here. And finally, the School Board schedule for the rest of the year can be viewed here.

Meanwhile, over in Seminole County, the School Board voted 4-1 to reopen with both in-person and online options, and the school year will be pushed back to a start date of Aug. 17. Also on Tuesday evening, the Osceola County School Board voted to push back the start of the school year to Aug. 24.

Please follow CDC guidelines and Orange County advisories to stay safe, and please support this free publication. Our small but mighty team is working tirelessly to bring you news on how coronavirus is affecting Central Florida. Please consider making a one-time or monthly donation. Every little bit helps.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Orlando Weekly works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Central Florida.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Orlando’s true free press free.