Florida teens host live youth debate on reopening schools during pandemic

Students impacted by COVID-19 are ready for their voices to be heard.

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Students want the public to know they want a say in their education.

Teens in Florida will host a live debate discussing whether or not their schools should be virtual or in person. The debate will be produced by “I’m A Star Foundation,” an organization for students 12-18 dedicated to “help their peers overcome negative statistics.” The students of the STAR program which stand for “Smart, Talented And Resilient” will debate live to amplify the voices of those impacted most by the future of schools, the students.

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Betty Seabrook Burney, the executive director for I’m A Star Foundation, sat down with New4Jax and said the mission of the organization is to inform the public and remind kids they are destined for greatness.

“We remind them they are stars, smart talented, and resilient students who are destined to change the world. So we do service projects. One of our biggest projects is to provide information to the community,” says Burney. “This debate gives young people the opportunity to share their voice.”

The event is not only for Jacksonville students. Viewers are encouraged to participate by voting on the pros and cons of reopening schools. Afterwards, there will be a community conversation about what was discovered during the debate. The non-profit hopes this will encourage parents to speak with their kids about the issues raised and their possible solutions.

A student by the name of Tiffany, 13, accompanied Burney to the TV interview and she says schools should remain virtual.

“My group is saying we shouldn’t reopen schools because of the health of the children and it just isn’t safe for right now.”

She admits she is concerned about losing out on the experience of being in the classroom but it is a sacrifice she is willing to make for safety.

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“In order for us to stay safe we have to make sacrifices. Not seeing my friends is going to be hard but I’m going to have to deal with it.”

The debate takes place on Oct. 29 at 6 p.m. You can visit HERE to see it live.

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