For many, 2020 has been a year characterized by a seemingly endless number of challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic has, at this point, monopolized most of the year for many Americans—and there's no sign it's slowing down as we head into the 2020/2021 school year.
For parents—especially co-parents in custody arrangements—it's yet another hurdle to face. However, knowing what to expect from the upcoming school year can help you navigate it with more confidence. Today, we're giving you everything you need to know about the 2020/2021 school year in Florida, and how co-parents can work together to pursue their child's best interests as they return to the classroom.
Figuring Out How Your Child's School Plans to Reopen
The issue that will define the 2020/2021 school year for many Florida parents is how their school district intends to reopen. Florida Department of Education Secretary Richard Corcoran signed an official order mandating schools to reopen in August but allowed each district to devise their own plan for how to achieve that goal.
For example, high school students in Duval County, Florida, have a couple options. Starting on August 20th, students will have the opportunity to attend school in-person. However, if a student or their parents are not comfortable attending school physically, they can instead attend online classes.
Students who attend online classes will do so through the Duval Virtual Instruction Academy (DVIA). The DVIA will be in place throughout the 2020/2021 school year, and gives high schoolers the option to attend some events in person as well as online, or receive their education virtually. The DVIA also uses a different curriculum than Duval County public schools, so the district recommends that students and parents who want to use the DVIA commit to it for the entirety of the 2020/2021 school year.
To learn more about how the Florida Department of Education and public schools intend to reopen on a district-by-district basis, please visit this page provided by the Florida DoE.
If you have more in-depth questions for academic officials in your district, it may be worth figuring out where your child's school holds board meetings. Most board meets are open to the public, so you can attend them and voice your concerns.
Discussions to Have with Your Co-Parent About the 2020/2021 School Year
Once you understand how your child's school district plans to handle reopening, it's time to open up a dialogue with your co-parent. You should discuss the following subjects:
- Does your co-parent understand the reopening plan? They may not have conducted as much research into the issue as you. If they haven't, and they have partial legal custody of your child, consider providing them with material about the reopening.
- Do you agree on how to handle the school year? You may have different stances on whether your child should go school in-person or use a virtual learning platform like the DVIA (assuming your district provides one). If you do disagree, now's the time to hash out a compromise. It may be worth noting that, within 15 days of reopening schools, Florida confirmed more than 9,000 new COVID-19 cases among students. If you, your co-parent, or your partner have any pre-existing conditions that could make them more susceptible to COVID-19, you may want to weight the option of a digital education alternative for your child more heavily.
- Do you agree on boundaries outside of school? No matter how you decide to handle the school year, you'll also need to devote time to discerning how you want to handle boundaries for your child outside of school. Can they still have friends come over? If they're old enough, can they go out in public? If so, what kind of precautions do you want them to take? What kind of precautions do you want yourself and your co-parent to take? Discussing these issues in advance can help you feel more at ease once the school year really gets going.
- Are you both willing to flexible? Now more than ever, co-parents may find they have to flexible about expectations for their child and co-parent. You may have to be willing to play things by ear and be flexible about boundaries if you want to get the best results when all's said and done.
This year hasn't been easy for anyone, but co-parents who take the right precautions can still help their child thrive during the 2020/2021 school year.
However, if your co-parent combats your attempts to communicate about your child's education or places their health in jeopardy, you may need to take more serious measures. At The Law Offices of Jason K.S. Porter, P.A, we can help you file for a custody order modification to make your custody arrangement more accurately reflect your needs.