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Leon County Schools, Tallahassee colleges prepare for return of students amid omicron spread

LCS changes won't differ much from before the start of winter break.
Posted at 11:16 PM, Jan 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-06 15:45:18-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Leon County students will return to class Wednesday, Jan. 5. That's after three weeks off. Amid a surge in COVID cases, safety in the classroom is a hot topic.

"We saw this on the horizon going into the winter break. We were prepared going into the new year to make adjustments and changes," said School Superintendent Rocky Hanna.

When it comes to students, Gov. Ron DeSantis made certain that parents have the final say over COVID safety.

"We usher in a new year, but continue to deal with the same story," said Hanna.

That story, keeping students safe during a global pandemic. The main topic of debate continues to be masks.

"The executive branch of state government has gone silent on recommendations moving forward. There was legislation passed just before the holiday which said statewide we could no longer require students to wear a mask in school even during an outbreak," he said.

Amid the surge in omicron cases, LCS will strongly encourage masks and ramp up efforts to remind students throughout campus.

It's another story for faculty and staff. Unless six feet of distance is possible, they must have a mask on. Any campus mentor or volunteer has to wear a mask at all times.

"If you came to our schools now you would see that most students are still wearing a mask. That's totally their call," said Assistant Superintendent Alan Cox.

In line with current CDC changes, the quarantine policy will fall from 10 days to five.

"After the five days, if they still have some mild symptoms but the symptoms are improving, they can also return," said Cox.

Students exposed will no longer be contact traced. Instead, parents will receive a note if a classmate tests positive. LCS will also bring back its COVID-19 dashboard.

As testing continues to be an issue, LCS will maintain its sites specifically designated for teachers and students.

"We were going to close down shop right at Christmas but we saw the variant. We're glad we did," said Hanna.

It's not just K-12 preparing to return to class in our area; college students will return as well.

Florida State University and Florida A&M University return Wednesday, Jan. 5. While Tallahassee Community College returns the following Thursday.

FSU Vice President of Finance Kyle Clark said FSU students are asked to test before they return to campus.

"Florida State has ordered 10,000 at-home tests so that we can deploy them throughout the semester as we potentially have cells that pop up. We also requested that our campus community start using medical-grade masks," he said.

Meanwhile, FAMU is handing out COVID kits equipped with KN95 masks, hand sanitizer, and more.

All three universities say the majority of the classes this semester will be in person, so masks and tests are even more important.