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Leon County Schools finalizing COVID-19 protocols

Posted at 9:39 PM, Aug 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-06 09:19:10-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Leon County Schools is less than a week out from school, but plans for how students and staff will handle COVID-19 are still up in the air.

As the delta variant surges, the stronger strain of the coronavirus is targeting many school-aged children. Leon County Schools is re-examining what the start of the school year will look like.

Most likely, students not old enough for the vaccine will have to wear a mask.

Superintendent Rocky Hanna asked Governor Ron DeSantis earlier this week to allow required masks for Pre-K through 8th-grade students.

Now the school district is figuring out how to best protect everyone now that schools will be back to full capacity.

"I think right now we just need to wait to hear back from the Governor and then on Monday, we'll have some reaction on whether or not we will have masks in the schools and how that will work out. I will say right now it looks like we will be requiring masks for kindergarten through eighth-grade students," said LCS Communications Director Chris Petley.

For any parent against mandatory masks, Superintendent Hanna said they will listen to concerns.

"We will meet one on one with parents and students who just refuse to comply to talk about a different path or avenue. We don't want to have to discipline students who aren't in compliance with our mask situation," said Superintendent Hanna.

LCS says last year, 800 in-person learning students caught COVID. However, more than 10,000 of those in-person students were asked to quarantine.

Contact tracers will continue to reach out to anyone possibly exposed to a sick student or employee. Those guidelines are for anyone who spends 15 minutes or more within six feet of someone who has tested positive.

LCS is working with the department of health and hospitals on a possible change in the length of a quarantine period.

"The superintendent has made no qualms about his desire to shorten the length of quarantining," said Petley.

Leon County Teachers Association Scott Mazur said what's most important is that learning isn't disrupted.

"One of the things that I think that's being lost in all this is that, regardless of where you stand when students quarantine, there is no digital academy this year. There's going to be no way to physically distance because we're not doing block schedules," said Mazur.

He said the key to prioritizing education is by focusing on what keeps everyone safe: masking, social distancing, cleaning, and hand washing.

When faculty and staff return Monday, they will be required to wear a mask when not capable of social distancing indoors.