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Islanders prefer return to the classroom for students

By Staff | Aug 5, 2020

The votes are in regarding which learning plan works best to educate island students. According to Pine Island Elementary School Principal Tom Millins, approximately 60 percent of parents whose children attend PIE have elected to let their children return to school.

This will mean face-to-face learning in classrooms amidst the Coronavirus pandemic.

“Lee County School District has given principals discretion and flexibility,” said Millins. “If a child is not doing well in one setting, or if a parent or a child is uncomfortable coming to school, we can move them back to a Home Connect situation, or if a child is in a Home Connect or Virtual School and it isn’t working for them, they have the option to come back to school — that would be at the principal’s discretion.”

In addition to the school district’s careful reopening plan, Millins said the McQuade family, which currently has two young students, have begun a grassroots movement to raise funds in order to purchase air purifiers for each classroom at Pine Island Elementary.

“Nicole Lauber McQuade, former owner of Sandy Hook, along with her husband, Sean McQuade of Reelin and Dealin Offshore Charters, decided to help some fellow teachers get air purifiers for their classrooms,” said Millins, stating that it started with just wanting to help one of their boy’s former teachers.

Millins said McQuade told him, “It quickly morphed into helping all of the Pine Island Elementary classrooms! I had numerous people ask me if this was for PIE. I actually started this just to help my teacher friends from all over the county. However, if someone wanted to donate specifically to PIE, all they had to do was tell me.”

“It is one more safety precaution we are putting into place to ensure the safety of our students and staff members,” said Millins, adding that this initiative has his total support.

Millins explained that the district office is finalizing re-opening plans for the schools, saying parents should be receiving more information regarding safety procedures, re-opening plans and open house dates in the next week.

With many people wanting to contribute to this effort, Nicole and Sean (who is also an engineer with the Matlacha/Pine Island Fire Department) have joined forces with the Bobby Holloway Jr. Memorial Fund to make it happen. If anyone wants to donate, they can do so on Nicole’s Facebook fundraiser or Go Fund Me account on Facebook or by check.

You can send checks to either BHMF or Nicole McQuade for “benefit of PIE air.” Please send checks to 12291 Shoreview Drive, Matlacha FL 33993.