Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) Superintendent Diana Greene held a press conference Monday morning where she discussed the district’s expanded summer programs along with how district curriculum will be impacted by Florida’s critical race theory ban.
Greene announced over 20,0000 students are set to participate in Duval County Public Schools summer programs starting this week.
In previous years, the district had a few thousand students in its summer programs, but the district’s programs have expanded because of funding from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER).
The funding has allowed the district to implement full-day summer school and summer camp programs that run until late July, Greene said. It has also allowed them to add art and music to their programs.
“It doesn't matter whether a student is there for remediation or acceleration. We wanted to ensure that we gave that summer camp type feel for students,” Greene said.
The district has also begun to scale back its COVID-19 safety measures that were in effect last school year. Masks are optional during the summer school programs, but students are required to stay at a three-foot distance from each other.
Greene said the enrollment numbers in the district’s summer program show students are ready to engage in a school environment with COVID-19 concerns beginning to fade.
“It tells us that they also want to get back to some level of a normal summer whether they're engaged in summer camp, or our summer rise program,” she said.
Greene also discussed Florida’s recently passed critical race theory ban, saying the district’s history curriculum will not change because critical race theory has never been a part of DCPS’s curriculum or teaching standards, she said during a Monday morning press conference.
Critical race theory is an academic concept that examines racism as more than individual bias or prejudice, but as something built into larger legal systems and government policies, like the criminal justice system, education and housing.
Florida’s State Education Board banned critical race theory from public school classrooms, citing it in legislation as an example of “theories that distort historical events,” the same category given to Holocaust denial or minimization.
When asked about the ban, Greene maintained that the district will continue teaching the African American history curriculum that got DCPS recognized as an Exemplary School District by the Florida Commissioner of Education’s African American History Task Force.
“Our African American History focuses on the contributions of African Americans to not only the state of Florida, but to Jacksonville and to our nation,” she said.