Central Florida school districts offer parents help with virtual school struggles

For many families, home is the new classroom and school districts in Central Florida are offering help for parents for those struggling.

Carmen Wagstaff, a mother in Orange County, has five children, with the oldest two in college.

“I have a junior at West Orange and then a Fourth Grader and Kindergartener in Maxey Elementary,” she told FOX 35. “It's a busy life!”

Wagstaff said having that many students under one roof is tough, explaining that, "we legitimately can't put five children on the internet at one time. That's the biggest problem.”

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When it comes to technology, most school districts in the area tell us they can help. Orange, Seminole, Lake, Volusia, and Osceola counties can provide laptops and portable internet hotspots to students who do not have their own.

Another problem was time, though. Orange County mother Nancy Miller has an elementary-aged son and she said "he would have to be on LaunchED from 8:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. and I work full time."

For students like hers, districts said they gave parents all the options they could to be flexible for their situation. Seminole County Schools stated, "that question can only be answered by the parents of each individual student. Thus why we gave four options for them to choose from. They need to make whatever selection best fits their student's needs and their situation."

Like the other districts, students could pick from virtual school, in-person classes, or a hybrid model that had the student attending classes remotely. For those who could afford it, some daycare centers, like Kid City USA, allow parents to drop off students to attend remote classes under their supervision.

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“It's $120 a week,” said Kid City’s Carolyn Smith. There, children “have some sort of normality back in their life. They can continue work, the children will be safe here, and the teachers will guide them through virtual school.”

Many parents face other issues though. Kimberly Penny, a Volusia County mother, has a daughter with special needs.

“She's not going to get any of her speech or any of her therapies that she gets at school,” Penny said. “Unfortunately, the only thing she's really getting out of school is interaction.”

In this situation, Volusia County -- and others -- said their students' individual education plans would be followed. For students with special needs, districts asked parents to contact them to discuss the plans and how the students could continue them remotely. Districts also asked parents needing laptops and internet access to contact them too.

Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the rest of the FOX 35 Classroom Survival Guide as schools prepare to reopen.