The Return to School


Lauren Stallworth, Editor

As our five-month summer winds down, the looming uncertainty of returning to school approaches. With a mix of excitement, nervousness, fear, and eagerness to begin re-establishing daily lives and routines, our students and staff are gearing up for the 2020-2021 school year; one that will undoubtedly go down in Cypress Creek history as the most unusual.

As many of you know, the return to school comes in three different forms. We were presented with choices of how to be educated this year: a traditional option where students return to school as usual (with as much normalcy as possible), a MyLearning option that follows Cypress Creek’s bell schedule and classes (the only exception being it takes place via formats like zoom), and an FLVS option, where students will take their courses through FLVS with teachers assigned within that system. Many people have strong opinions about each, as well as a long list of questions and curiosities.

The first and foremost concern is safety. Many students are choosing to receive their education this year online due to concerns over the Coronavirus, as some students may live with at-risk family members, or could be immune-compromised themselves. However, lots of students also fear for another aspect of their health if they do indeed choose virtual; their mental health. While the matter of returning to school is highly controversial amongst families as well as doctors, it is undeniable that the isolation and quarantine has had a vastly negative impact on teens mental health. Many government officials and pediatricians have spoken out about this, with one organization claiming a 1,000 percent increase in calls to confidential crisis mental health hotlines since the outbreak. Additionally, the CDC released that their official view on the matter is that students should indeed return to school for the sake of their emotional well-being, as long as proper safety procedures are in place.

But many students and families are not convinced that they will be able to stay safe in a traditional school setting and feel that it is best for them to stay home – a very valid concern. As of August 4th, 556 students out of our 1,457 student body had chosen a virtual option for the upcoming school year; with 447 of them choosing Myschool online, and the remainder via FLVS. The number of students attending virtually has increased significantly since the initial opening of applications in early July, which only saw 323 students deciding to go virtual. This is likely due to the fact that not long after the deadline, Florida was declared the new epicenter of the Coronavirus outbreak, even surpassing states like New York.

One significantly difficult part of making these tough decisions is that every family, student, and staff member, has their own experience and risks to accommodate. It is important to remember that no two households are the same and that whichever decision a student comes to, they have their own incredibly valid and important reasons for choosing it. This is why I personally am extremely grateful that students were given the choice to decide what is best for them, and that everyone’s needs can be accommodated through this return to school plan; because as some students make have a weak immune system or are unhealthily physically, others greatest threat could be the damage isolation does their mental health.

Our teachers and staff members are working both at Cypress Creek, as well as the district level to prepare for each option. In addition to the usual schedule and lesson planning staff typically undergoes prior to returning to school, they are now faced with the task of outlining safety procedures and how to social distance, as well as converting students who chose a virtual option to online. Superintendent Kurt Browning cited this as the main reason for the two-week delay in returning to school during a video published on July 21st.

Regardless of in which format you choose to attend for school this year, I am so excited to see our Coyote family reunited once more, staff, and students alike. We have all had to persevere through struggles we could have never anticipated prior to COVID-19, but I think it is remarkable in the ways we have continued to stick together and make do with the unprecedented situation we’ve been put in. Stay safe Coyotes!