As the situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our communities, the Osceola School District remains vigilant in extending high-quality opportunities for all students to learn and grow. At the end of last school year, thousands of dedicated educators and professionals in public education in our county rose up and made the best of a rapidly-changing situation in an unprecedented time to serve our children and families with creativity, resilience, flexibility, and commitment. I am also proud of our parents and students who did a remarkable job continuing to learn in circumstances none of us could have imagined when the school year began. As the conditions with COVID-19 are continuing to evolve, the challenge is not yet over.
As we prepare for the start of school on August 24, 2020, the Osceola County School Board has provided parents the ability to decide which back-to-school option serves their family the best. We have spent the summer months hard at work developing opportunities for rich educational experiences for all children within our community, whether they plan to return to the classroom for face-to-face instruction, prefer the opportunity to learn digitally, or enroll in the district’s Osceola Virtual School. Not only have we modified the way our schools and transportation fleet operate to align with guidelines from the CDC and the Department of Health for hygiene and social distancing, we continue to place importance on the strong positive outcomes that come from student and teacher connections, no matter the distance. Parents and students are asked to visit www.osceolaschools.net/startsmart to learn about the important safety procedures and expectations that are being put into place to keep students and staff safe and healthy.
Despite the uncertainty of the times, great things are around the corner. Through our sales tax building program, two of our district’s oldest schools that went through comprehensive rebuilds, St. Cloud Middle and Denn John Middle, will proudly open their doors to students to their new buildings on August 24. In addition, the Osceola Business Academy will open at Poinciana High as a new magnet academy for students across the district as part of School Choice. This innovative learning opportunity bridges the gap between theory and practice for future entrepreneurs and innovators. Students will learn basics of design thinking, mold ideas into clear business plans, and compete in a final pitch fest and showcase. With an emphasis on personal development and academic rigor, this new magnet program offers students practical, hands-on experiences to help build 21st Century workforce skills and unleash the entrepreneurial spirit of innovation.
As we kick-off the new academic year, I fully understand the stress that our teachers, staff, parents, and students are enduring as school continues to look differently than in years past. But what has not changed is our drive to provide every child, every chance, every day as we move closer to eliminating the achievement gap. What has not changed is our focus on meeting students’ academic, social, and emotional needs and supporting them in fulfilling their potential. And what will never change is our laser-focused pursuit of the highest standards in academic achievement and organizational performance because our children, families, and community deserve no less.
Here’s to a safe and successful school year!
Dr. Debra Pace