The start of a new school year is a special time, filled with opportunity and potential, new adventures to learn, and the beginning of beautiful friendships, some of which will last a lifetime.

While Back to School is one of the best times in life, it also has its challenges – and that’s true even in a normal year. We all know this school year is different in so many ways. As parents, you’ve already had to decide which instructional model will work best for your family and how to navigate the safety guidelines we all must follow to keep our children, teachers and school staff healthy.

First, let me say: I understand. In addition to serving as a Volusia County School Board member, I am caregiver to my elderly parents and in-laws, and a dean and professor at Bethune-Cookman University. So I understand the importance of protecting our families’ health.

As we embark on this new year together, I want to assure you that Volusia County Schools has a comprehensive Reopening Plan, developed over the spring and summer with input from more than 100 stakeholders. Our plan focuses on rigorous instruction, safety, and flexibility. Our teachers received extra training, supplies have been delivered to schools, and many changes have been made on every campus to allow for social distancing and sanitizing throughout the day.

Whether your student is back in the Traditional Classroom or has chosen a virtual program for this fall, we are ready for a fantastic school year to live out the VCS mission to ignite a passion for learning by providing a challenging, creative curriculum in a safe, supportive environment where students reach their highest potential.

As parents, you play a major role is your child’s success. I encourage you to study the new Parent Guide and the Roadmap to Reopening on the VCS website: There you will find procedures for safety, health, and classrooms, protocols for handling suspected cases of COVID-10, answers to frequently asked questions, and links to outside resources. You’ll see some guidelines to help parents decide if and when they should keep their children home for the day.

For students in our new Volusia Live and the Enhanced Volusia Online Learning, we ask you to provide a dedicated place at home where your students can stay organized and focus on their studies. We encourage your family to follow a normal school-day routine – and have the kids get dressed and prepared for class. That sends the brain a message that they’re ready to work!

I encourage you to help your children envision a successful year, support their learning interests, and provide creative breaks whenever possible.

As Albert Einstein said, “In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.”

It’s definitely more difficult to go Back to School during a pandemic. But, together, we are stronger. We have a strong Reopening Plan. We are trained and ready to serve your children. And there are countless opportunities ahead!