Viera family adapts to challenging school year


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The Helton family, from left, Brian, Taylor and Christy, live on Deercroft Drive in the Bayhill subdivision in Viera East. “We are living in a whole new world,” Christy Helton said. The family has been shopping for school supplies during this pandemic in preparation for the start of the school year.

Ernest Arico

The start of the 2020–21 school year will be unlike any we’ve ever seen before.

Whether you decide your child should attend school in person or participate in a virtual or hybrid approach, parents need to make sure they have the right supplies.

If your child is returning to the classroom, they’ll definitely need some new supplies, more than in past years. Schools shared the list of supplies for each grade.

If you plan on keeping your child at home to participate in a virtual or hybrid approach, there are several items you might need to buy.

For example, the top item both groups will need is a laptop. But before you buy, check with your school since technology recommendations might be different this year.

Students will be required to use Zoom in order to be connected with their teachers.

In addition, make sure you add a pair of headphones with a built-in microphone to your school supply list. Consumer Reports recommended the Monoprice headphones for less than $50 or for in-ear headphones, grab a pair of Panasonics.

But if now is not the right time to drop a lot of cash on a new computer or laptop, look into free software that can turn an outdated laptop into a Chromebook.

School officials also strongly recommend parents set up a work space in the home with supplies and materials requested by the teacher. Many schools list the supplies students will need on their school’s website.

For example, Quest Elementary School in Viera lists its supplies on its website brevardschools.org/QuestES.

If a student doesn’t have access to a laptop or computer, some schools will supply one. Quest Principal Christine Boyd said her school will provide the student with a laptop if needed.

Brian and Christy Helton, who live on Deercroft Drive in the Bayhill subdivision in Viera East, said shopping for school supplies this year was different.

“It’s kind of weird that the kids are going back to school,” said Christy Helton, a marketing and sales representative for the Duran Golf Club. “Nothing can be shared anymore. You have to buy your own headphones, water bottle, school supplies. It’s crazy.”

The Heltons’ 16-year-old daughter, Taylor, will be a sophomore at Merritt Island High School this school year. Her family decided she will go to school in person.

“Taylor needs the interaction with teachers and the social aspect of school,” Christy Helton said.

Brian Helton is a seventh- and eighth-grade physical education teacher at Kennedy Middle School in Rockledge and assistant football coach at MIHS. He said he’s OK with going back to the classroom but admits it’s a huge learning process for him.

“For me, doing eLearning and face-to-face teaching at the same time will be a challenge as well as the new block schedule of 90-minute classes,” he said.

Financially, the Heltons spent about $25 more in school supplies this year than in previous years. “We are living in a whole new world,” Christy Helton said. “You have to grab whatever you can because some supplies are limited.”

In the meantime, if your child is staying at home and participating in the Brevard Public Schools eLearning program or the Florida Virtual School, patience will be crucial in adjusting to the new requirements.