When a new school year opens, Cypress Creek Middle students will finally have school buildings to call their own.
Middle and high school students have been sharing the campus, formerly known as Cypress Creek Middle High, since 2017.
Beginning this fall, however, there will be a middle school for grades six through eight, and a high school for grades nine through 12.
Construction on the middle school began in 2019.
“It’s more than on track,” said Ray Gadd, deputy superintendent for Pasco Schools. “It’s as ahead of schedule as we’ve ever been.”
Like all public schools in Pasco County, a regular school day likely will be very different from any previous school years.
Planning sessions are ongoing for the fall start of school, with keen attention on how the COVID-19 pandemic will dictate changes in school operations.
Gadd said he anticipates an announcement on what to expect for district schools by July 1.
Cypress Middle School has a student capacity of about 1,600 students. Gadd surmises the first year enrollment will be somewhat lower.
Construction for the school building is estimated at about $43.5 million.
It shares the same campus as the high school, but is about 15 acres north of it.
With a curriculum focus on performing arts, the building design includes a black box theater, chorus, dance and orchestra rooms.
Also, Pasco-Hernando State College is expected to open its Instructional Performing Arts Center on the same campus this fall.
The district initially planned to open both a high school and a middle school on the Cypress Creek campus at the same time, but a lack of funding forced it to use the campus for both middle and high school students.
The campus opened in 2017, for students in grades six through 11, with a senior class added the following year. Care was taken to keep the younger students and older students separated, and to provide middle school and high school programs.
Opening of the middle school in the fall also required a realignment of school boundaries affecting primarily students living in the Seven Oaks subdivision of Wesley Chapel, who attended John Long Middle School and Wiregrass Ranch High School.
While the district gears up to open a new school, it’s preparing for how it will operate safely amidst COVID-19 concerns.
Gadd noted there’s no precedence to follow.
“We look at everything the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) does, but CDC has not provided us with any pragmatic, practical information,” Gadd said.
Figuring out how to do social distancing isn’t easy, especially with kindergarten and elementary students, he said.
“How do you keep kindergartners from interacting?” Gadd asked.
One option to keep younger students safe would be to keep them together as one classroom group, he said. There would be no intermingling with students in other classrooms. And, activities with each group, including recess, would be done as a unit.
Middle school and high school students are more mature, and more likely to handle social distancing, Gadd said.
But, there are many more issues to resolve — even something as simple as getting students to and from school.
“How do we get kids on the bus and off the bus?” Gadd said.
Work sessions are ongoing.
“Our intent is to open all schools,” Gadd said. “Right now, we haven’t received any guidance from the state suggesting otherwise.”
Revised June 09, 2020
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