The New Normal? What to Expect When School Reopens

school reopensWe’ve all been tearing our hair out for the past few months. It’s no understatement to say that having distance learning foisted upon us with no warning whatsoever was not easy. Even for those of us who are already homeschooling pros were thrown for a loop, because our entire world literally changed overnight. So naturally, we were all anxiously awaiting what we could expect for the new school year. And finally, we’ve got an idea of what’s to come for when school reopens.

The Duval County School Board has just presented a plan with some early insights into the 2020–2021 school year, and the good news is, there are lots of options for parents and students. But of course, in this COVID-19 world, it’s good to keep in mind that things can change at any time.

Elementary School

Parents of younger students will be able to choose between sending their kids to school full-time or a few home-learning options. If you decide to send your kids full-time, then they’ll go to school five days a week, with the exception of early release days. Kids will stay home from school those days to do home learning, while schools get a deep cleaning.

Parents can also choose between Duval HomeRoom, which is what we used for the past few months during the pandemic, or Duval Virtual Instructional Academy (DVIA). To enroll in DVIA, parents would need to remove their kids from their current school and enroll them in DVIA, which is an already-existing virtual school option.

Sixth Grade

Sixth graders have similar options to elementary schoolers, with a few differences. If you choose to send your sixth-grader to school full time, then they will attend school in-person every day except Wednesday, when they will use Duval HomeRoom to work from home.

If you want to continue at-home learning, you have the same options: use Duval HomeRoom, or enroll in DVIA.

Seventh and Eighth Grade

Older middle-schoolers can choose to continue at-home learning, or they can pick a hybrid model for 2020–2021. Three days a week, seventh and eighth graders will go to school, and the other two days, they will work from home using Duval HomeRoom.

If parents choose to work from home full-time, then like the younger grades, they can choose to use Duval HomeRoom full-time, or they can enroll in DVIA.

High School

High schoolers will have a hybrid option available to them. If they want to attend school in person, they would go two days a week, while learning from home using Duval HomeRoom the other three days.

There is a slight change here for parents who prefer home learning, though; high schoolers do not appear to have the option of using Duval HomeRoom full-time. Instead, parents wishing to keep their students at home would have to enroll in DVIA.

Exceptional Education

Students in a “low incident” ESE program will continue going to school full-time. There will be remote learning and other accommodations made on a case-by-case basis.

Social Distancing and Safety

Duval County Public Schools has a number of policies being put into place to ensure proper social distancing. All classes, with the exception of pre-k through second grade, will have clear plastic barriers separating student desks. Students in pre-k through second grade will instead be provided with face shields for freedom of movement. Face masks will not be required during class, but when students are walking in the hallways or using the bathroom, they will be requested, but not required, to wear them. Students will be required to wear masks on buses, with exceptions made for students with disabilities or medical conditions, who are recommended to wear a face shield or another kind of covering.

The 2020–2021 plan also includes mandatory temperature checks to enter school each day, personal protective equipment for employees, and hand sanitizing products in each classroom. A new website is also expected to launch next month with more details and information.

What are your thoughts on these safety measures for the 2020–2021 school year?

Cassy Fiano-Chesser
Cassy Fiano-Chesser is a Jacksonville native and mom to six kids. Her husband is a Marine Corps veteran and Purple Heart recipient. She works from home as a blogger and a freelance writer, and they currently live in the Argyle area of Jacksonville. Benjamin is their oldest, born in 2011, and he loves being a big brother. Wyatt was born in 2012, and he has Down syndrome. Ivy came next, in 2013, followed by Clara, born in 2015, who is a diva-with-a-capital-D. Rounding out the brood is Felicity, born in 2017, and Lilly, born in 2007. They love discovering things to do on the First Coast and going on family adventures, as well as cheering on the Jumbo Shrimp and the Icemen.


  1. what is the difference between full-time duval homeroom and dvia? i emailed dcps the question but so far they haven’t replied. pls share if you know the answer. thanks.


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