FAMU DRS moves to online instruction as COVID cases spike

An updated web page shows the announcement of the switch to remote instruction. Photo courtesy famudrs.org

Florida A&M University’s Developmental Research School (FAMU DRS) has moved to remote instruction effective immediately.

Parents were notified via email Sunday night by Micheal D. Johnson, superintendent of FAMU DRS, that the school would be closed until Oct. 9

“FAMU DRS administration has learned of additional positive COVID-19 case(s) on campus. As a result, we are transitioning to online instruction (remote learning) for the next two weeks beginning, tomorrow, Monday, September 21,” Johnson wrote in the email.

The campus has been open for less than one month, instructing students through in-person, remote and hybrid classes.

Albert Omah, the parent of two FAMU DRS students, was both comfortable and confident in sending his children back to school in-person. After receiving the email on such short notice, he now believes reverting the school to remote is the best option.

“I was already prepared for this, so I kind of inevitably thought that it was going to happen. The unknown of this virus is really what the deciding factor was for me to get prepared for a situation like this,” Omah said. “I expect it to happen again, to be honest, and when it happens, I’ll be prepared.”

As far as sending his kindergartner and fourth-grader pack post-closure, he remains unsure.

Though the closure may have caught parents and students off guard, school faculty were made aware via a Zoom meeting last week.

Sylvester Peck, a union representative, and senior faculty member, says he and other staff are ‘“furious.”

Parents received a copy of this email on Sunday night. Photo courtesy FAMU DRS Parent

“In our contention, I would say that all faculty members and staff members were furious and are still furious about the fact that we work there and our only protection is good quality information in terms of what’s going on around us,” Peck said in a phone interview.

Peck says the staff told administrators they simply did not care, and they got caught in a lie during the Zoom call.

After administration told staff there were no documented cases of COVID-19 on campus, the alleged infected person spoke up on the Zoom call saying that was untrue, and they had been notified since Monday.

“They proceeded to let us work in that environment with no kind of notification so we could protect our families from any kind of impact from that situation. Instead, we were going along doing the same thing we’d always done,” he said.

“They had that information, withheld that information, and put our lives at risk. That’s why it’s closed down,” Peck said.

Peck was one of the faculty who participated in an online protest in August to object to the school’s choice to reopen in-person classrooms. Peck attended to speak up for proper notification and proper personal protective equipment (PPE) when teachers returned to the frontlines.

Faculty and staff said they are distrustful of administration.

Johnson, the superintendent, was unavailable for comment earlier today.

During the two-week closure, the school will undergo sanitization measures and will not allow anyone in any buildings on campus.

The email did not indicate how many staff members or students had tested positive.