- August 12, 2022
I wanted to take this opportunity to officially thank everyone in Manatee County who contributed to completing this most challenging of school years —not only on time, but without missing a single day of school.
This accomplishment would not have been possible without the incredible resiliency and commitment of our students, parents, families, teachers and support employees.
When we started the school year on Aug. 17, 2020, we were the very first district in the Tampa Bay area to reopen for on-campus learning, and one of the first districts in the nation. While we started with 48 percent of our students attending classes full-time on campus, the number of students on our campuses grew steadily throughout the school year.
By February, 85 percent of our students had returned to campus, and by the end of the school year we were edging closer to the 90 percent mark. We believe those percentages reflect the confidence our parents gained in our health and safety protocols and that ultimately they determined face-to-face instruction was the most effective mode of instruction for the vast majority of students.
The growth in confidence of our students and parents would not have occurred without the selfless dedication and professionalism of our teachers, paraprofessionals, guidance counselors, school nurses, social workers, principals, bus drivers, custodians and support employees.
Every single employee of the school district, more than 6,000 in total, contributed to giving our approximately 50,000 students the full year of instruction they required and deserved.
Our employees did their jobs even as we experienced positive COVID-19 cases on our campuses, which resulted in students and staff being quarantined. Thankfully, the Florida Department of Health Manatee helped verify there was minimal evidence of spread inside our schools. The overwhelming majority of positive cases on our campuses were contracted outside of our schools.
And that brings me to our overall community.
Manatee County has always supported its schools. We couldn’t have completed this school year without the direct action and input of the Florida Department of Health Manatee, Manatee County Emergency Management, all of our local law enforcement agencies, our mayors and government administrators, faithful business partners and our always helpful non-profit agencies. Your sustained support strengthened us all.
Last week, I had the honor of attending all six of our traditional high school graduation ceremonies. How inspiring it was, after the trials and tribulations of the last year, to see the joy and confidence on our students faces as they accepted their diplomas. I want to say a special thanks to LECOM Park, the Pirates and Marauders, for your willingness to host five of those graduations.
Most importantly, I am proud to report that Manatee County’s Class of 2021 leaves behind a legacy of success. This senior class was awarded more than $4.4 million in scholarships and accepted into more than 180 colleges, universities and other post-secondary academic institutions across the United States. Other graduating seniors are heading off to serve in our Armed Forces, and others will begin their working careers.
Their success is a reflection of Manatee County’s dedication to public education.
Thank you as always for supporting our students and schools.
Superintendent Cynthia Saunders
School District of Manatee County