FAMU DRS returns to in-person instruction

FAMU Development Research School courtesy of the Alicia Devine at the Tallahassee Democrat

Florida A&M University Development Research School reopened as scheduled on Monday after classes transitioned to remote instruction two weeks ago following positive COVID-19 cases on campus.

It was confirmed that one teacher and one non-instructional staff member tested positive for COVID-19. After contact tracing done by health officials, these two positive cases resulted in eight teachers being excluded and put under quarantine for 14 days.

FAMU DRS Superintendent Michael Johnson communicated with parents via email on the night of Sept. 30. He said that additional positive cases have been brought to the administration’s attention and, as a result of this, they will transition to online instruction for two weeks. He added that they were proposing Monday, Oct. 5 as a tentative return-to-school date.

On Sept. 21, FAMU DRS closed its doors and shifted to remote learning after positive COVID-19 cases started to rise.During this quarantine period, the campus was thoroughly sanitized and no one was allowed to enter any building on campus.

But, even with safety measures put into place, teachers were still concerned about the school reopening on Monday.

These same teachers hosted an online protest, at the beginning of the school year, to object to the school’s reopening plan due to fear of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many teachers said that they have pre-existing health conditions that make them more vulnerable to the coronavirus. They felt as if it was their responsibility to keep the 600 students enrolled in this K-12 institution, and the rest of the community, safe.

To help these teachers feel more protected while in the classrooms, Johnson conducted a lab Thursday evening to work out the logistics of returning to school and in-person instruction.

“You are heard and teachers are heard,” Superintendent Johnson told teachers.

In an effort to help the teachers feel safer in the classroom, the school’s administration stated that they would be taking temperatures, monitoring staff and students for symptoms of COVID-19 and disinfecting the buildings daily.

Though progress has been made, many questions are left unanswered.

Nonetheless, families are still strongly encouraged to get tested at Bragg Memorial Stadium Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.