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LCS Superintendent will recommend delay in 2020-21 school year start date, masks when social distancing isn't possible

Leon County Schools
Posted at 6:22 PM, Jul 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-02 19:17:05-04

LEON COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL) — During a Wednesday Q&A session with Leon County Schools superintendent Rocky Hanna, parents got some answers about the district’s plans for reopening schools in August.

The biggest change to note: Instead of the original projected start date, Hanna is recommending to the school board that school starts on Wednesday, August 19.

Under that recommendation, teachers will return on Wednesday, August 12. He explained that there will be two training days allotted on Aug. 10 and Aug. 11 for Canvas.

Below, we break down important pieces of the district's plan. To see LCS' full Re-Open Plan, click here.


Prior to the start of school, parents of middle and high school students be able to choose from three options: In-person classes, a school-based digital academy or Leon County Virtual School.

Parents of elementary students will be able to opt into either in-person instruction or a school-based digital academy.

Once parents make a decision, they will be locked into that decision for at least one school semester. Parents have until July 13 to make their decision.


For an in-depth break down of each instructional option, click here.

For the 2020-21 school year, parents of elementary school students can choose from the following options:

Option 1: Face-to-Face Traditional Instruction

  • “Normal” day/Modified Experience
  • Scheduling Options will depend on Executive Orders

Option 2: School Based Digital Academy

  • Connected to enrolled school
  • All first semester Instruction will occur online
  • Limited/Modified curricular offerings

Parents of middle and high school students will have the following learning options when it comes to where they choose to continue their education:

Option 1: Face-to-Face Traditional Instruction

  • “Normal” day/Modified Experience
  • Scheduling Options will depend on Executive Orders

Option 2: School Based Digital Academy

  • Connected to enrolled school
  • All first semester Instruction will occur online
  • Limited/Modified curricular offerings

Option 3: Leon County Virtual School

  • Full-time and Part-time options
  • Considered a single school site

To see course options, click here.

On Thursday, July 2 at 6 p.m., Gillian Gregory, the assistant superintendent for academic services, will host a virtual question and answer session focused on the Digital Academies.

You can watch that Q&A on LCS' Facebook page here.


The district says it is still waiting on the Florida Department of Education for guidance on what state testing will be like for the upcoming school year.


Everyone, including bus drivers and assistants, will be required to wear a mask on school buses. All bus drivers and bus assistants will be required to wear gloves and will undergo daily temperature checks.

Interim Transportation Director James Cole stressed that no child will be left at the bus stop if they don't have a mask. Instead, one will be provided to them.

All bus routes from last year will remain the same in the 2020-21 school year.

However, if a student refuses to wear a mask, a referral will be issued to that student.

All buses will have a foam hand sanitizer dispenser installed at the front of the bus, and buses will be sanitized and disinfected on
frequently touched surfaces between runs.

Signs will also be posted on school buses stating that masks are required.


Masks will be required on students during transportation, during class transitions, and whenever social distancing is not possible, regardless of class or activity.

Individual considerations will be given to students who are unable to wear a mask.

Students will also be given “mask breaks."

Students will not be required to wear masks during P.E, recess or lunch.

For sporting events where audiences are allowed, LCS will require masks for entry to event, spacing between families, spread out fans in the stands, and not allow student sections.

If no audience is allowed, they will allow entry by Tiers:

Tier # 1 -- Participants, officials, coaches, medical, security
Tier # 2 -- Media, volunteers (live steaming, etc.)
Tier # 3 -- Spectators, vendors


Elementary students from pre-K, kindergarten, and 1st grade will have meals delivered to their classroom and can eat in the classroom or at an outside location.

Students in 2nd grade through high school will be served grab-n-go bag meals and may eat in the cafeteria while practicing social distancing or at an outside location. Additionally, a la carte items will be offered to students in high school.

The district said students will practice social distancing and wear masks while picking up meals in the cafeteria.

As far as sanitation efforts, cafeteria staff will clean and sanitize all high touch areas after each meal service. Plastic barriers will be installed in all middle and high school cashier areas where transactions will take place.

All cafeteria staff will wear face masks and will have their temperature taken daily.

For kids who opt into distance learning, the district is still waiting from USDA guidance on whether meals will be provided to them.


District officials anticipate that individual fall sports (like golf or swimming, etc.) should be able to return to play as normal provided that students practice social distancing and the district ensures shared equipment is sanitized.

Team sports aren't so simple. If fall team sports are permitted to play by the FHSAA, LCS will follow their guidelines.

Performing arts programs like band, chorus or drama are still up in the air as the district meets with school administrators and performing arts teachers.

The district will publish updated information when it becomes available.

The School Based Digital Academies will have limited offerings for performance arts courses. That information, when it's available, will be posted on your school’s website.

Digital academy students will be able to come participate in extracurricular activities after school.

Right now, the district said that lockers will not be assigned this year and showers and locker rooms will not be ope. Along with that, pep rallies and field trips will not be permitted.


The district said daily cleaning will occur alongside with deep cleaning as needed. Each classroom will be provided a Hygiene Kit of cleaning and sanitation supplies for daily use.

The district is also formulating a plan to clean and sanitize shared areas more often.

If a child in the classroom tests positive for COVID-19, the district will follow CDC guidelines on cleaning and disinfecting rooms. That means the district will close the classroom and wait for 24 hours before starting the disinfecting process.


Upon arrival at school, the children will undergo a daily "pediatric assessment" that includes a temperature check with a touchless infrared thermometer.

A visual assessment to check the students' appearance, breathing, and circulation will also be done as part of the screening.

If a student shows symptoms of infection, they will be sent to a common area (media center, etc.) for further assessment and possible release.


The following protocol applies:

  • If a student appears ill in class, the classroom teacher will check their temperature. If it’s elevated, the student will be directed to a clinic area where they will receive another assessment. If an elevated temperature or signs and symptoms are seen, the student will be placed in a safe area to await parent pickup.
  • The student will need to remain home until fever-free for 72 hours. After that, they can return to school. If there is no improvement or symptoms appear, the student may elect to see doctor who may advise a COVID-19 test. (Illness may be from another ailment and a COVID19 test would not be needed). Once a COVID-19 test is given, the physician or Department of Health must provide the parent with a release to return to school for either a positive or negative test.


School counselors are scheduled to return when school resumes and school psychologists will continue with evaluations soon after school begins.

"Due to COVID-19 and the isolation that many students and families have experienced, Leon County School will have a focused effort on direct instruction in Social and Emotional Learning to assist students in feeling safe returning to school and making establishing positive relationships with adults and peers as a primary focus," the plan reads.


Volunteering will not be allowed during the first semester back. However, there will be virtual opportunities to volunteer.


Hanna said that the before and after school programs will be operational when school begins.

You can watch the Q&A session below: