DCPS surveys stakeholders, other districts consider lingering health concerns
News4Jax | by Joe McLean | May 13, 2021
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As the 2020-2021 academic year nears its end, school districts across Northeast Florida are looking ahead to the next one and wondering what, if any, COVID-19 safety protocols will still be necessary come August.
In Duval County, the school district launched a public survey to garner responses from stakeholders on the future of masks, desk barriers and sanitation protocols in schools.
News4Jax readers had a variety of responses with some in favor of continuing strict safety protocols until herd immunity from COVID-19 is reached, and other firmly opposed to any more district-imposed pandemic rules.
“It’s only logical to keep precautions in place at least until we have a higher vaccination rate and get to a considerably lower positivity rate,” News4Jax reader RobertB wrote. “We’re almost there.”
“Lots of educational resources are being missed and even just the regular classes are tough because of these partitions, masks, etc.,” News4Jax reader Andrea Bryant wrote. “Too distracting and hindering.”
Some questioned Duval County Public Schools’ use of a survey to collect input on a matter of public safety.
“Is there a specific reason why our school board can’t make an independent decision?” News4Jax reader Retired30 wrote. “Either leave the barriers, or remove them. Not a difficult decision. Where is the leadership?”
Meanwhile, other area school districts have been working to formulate their strategies this fall, several of which said they would be using public input when making any decisions.
Below are the responses from Northeast Florida school districts:
St. Johns County School District
“We are planning to get feedback from stakeholders, e.g. employees, parents, community leaders before bringing a plan forward to our School Board.”
Clay County School District
“We are currently working as a district to revise our Smart Restart Plan for next year. Our goal is to have the plan advertised at the June 3rd regular School Board meeting and then approved in July. A copy of the proposed revised plan will be a part of the school board agenda for the June 3rd meeting.”
Nassau County School District
“Though our current focus is on finishing the 2020-2021 school year safely, we are beginning to formulate our plan for next year based on guidance and input from FDOE, local health officials, and other stakeholder groups.”
Alachua County Public Schools
No response yet.
Baker County School District
No response yet.
Bradford County School District
“We are doing everything we can to return to normalcy. At this point, we do not anticipate any special conditions related to COVID. However, we will still follow the guidelines set forth by the CDC and our local health department.”
Columbia County School District
No response yet.
Flagler County Schools
“We just released our optional face-covering procedure which goes into effect June 7th. We are anticipating that we will also be able to resume more of our normal activities safely that had to be placed on hold this year due to social distancing requirements.”
Putnam County School District
“Putnam County School District leaders will convene in June to determine the 2021-22 COVID-19 protocols for schools. We will work closely with our local health department officials and other stakeholder groups prior to creating the guidelines.”
Union County School District
“We plan to open as we currently are operating.”
Image: Desks with COVID-19 dividers in a St. Johns County school (WJXT)