School board tackles mask debate


Students are walking to their next class, and they are following mask protocols.

Will school actually go back to normal next year? Will masks be mandatory?. To answer these questions, the School Board will meet on June 22 where they will address the masks and allow school administrators to decide what to do from there.

Principal Robert Frasca wants to bring fun back to Hagerty, and he wants for there to be a normal school year next year, but much of that depends on what the school board says in their upcoming meeting. 

“I hope to be able to bring back some normalcy to our campus. We plan on returning to our old bell schedule to include a straight-seven period Wednesday. I am also looking forward to pep rallies and a return to having our full marching band at football games,” said Frasca.  

As of now students have to be patient. During the summer, the School Board will make more updates on the plan for the 2021-2022 school year. 

On May 3, Gov. Ron DeSantis dismissed all COVID-19 mandate protocols that were in place since the pandemic started: wearing masks everywhere, always socially distancing. Most school districts, however, are keeping the mask mandate in place until the summer, including Seminole County. The county is currently debating on whether there will be required masks or not. 

One thing that has been decided, however, is the schooling option for next year. On April 28, Seminole County decided that they are going to get rid of the Seminole Connect and Hybrid learning option for the 2021-2022 school year. 

WFTV-9 did a poll that said 84% of teachers feel that Seminole Connect should not be continued in the 2021-2022 school year— and they have their reasons. Chemistry teacher Janessa Hartman has mixed emotions on the Seminole Connect option: she was excited to learn a new way of teaching, but quickly wanted things to go back to normal as soon as they could.

“At first, I was really excited to have a brand new method of teaching and engaging students using technology. However, I quickly realized that it was a lot more work to manage 6 hybrid classes at once with technology troubleshooting since the very first day of school.” said Hartman. “Some students were engaged and responded to my questions using the chat box feature in WebEx, and for others I saw more engagement from their ceiling fans.”

Teachers are excited to see all of their students’ faces again in class, and to be able to interact with them and help them in person.

 “I am looking forward to our campus returning to a little more normalcy. Teaching Seminole Connect and face-to-face classes at the same time has been very difficult for our teachers,” said principal Robert Frasca. 

SCPS cited that students learning on campus rather than virtually have had a better understanding of their course content and higher grades throughout the school year. 

Administration learned a lot throughout the year from the Seminole Connect experience. During the second nine weeks, students were required to turn on their webcam during their classes so the teachers could see that they were present. 

“I heard many stories throughout the year of students playing video games during class and not paying attention,” said Frasca.  “Or students leaving class to bring in groceries for their parents. I think it was difficult for many students to focus on learning.” 

Learning face-to-face just seems to work better for most students, which is why teachers want to part ways with the Seminole Connect option. 

As a teacher this year has been exhausting and my workload has doubled, but not my paycheck. I liked getting the experience of teaching online, but it needs to be one or the other,” said TV production teacher Donna Mullins Parker. “Teaching both types of classes at the same time is not an effective, or efficient way to teach.”