Volunteer masks, more flexibility for the coming school year | News, Sports, Jobs
Smiles, not masks.
Choice of parents, no mandates.
That’s the message Governor Ron DeSantis shared on Friday morning at a press conference in Cape Coral called to announce an executive order banning school systems from imposing masks.
“I think the decision of whether parents want their children to wear masks, I think this decision fits perfectly into the contours of this declaration of parents’ rights that I signed,” DeSantis said.
The new legislation, which entered into force on July 1, enumerates the rights of parents with regard to education, health care and criminal justice procedures. The bill prohibits “The state, its political subdivisions, any other governmental entity and any other institution to infringe the fundamental right of a parent to direct the education, education, health care and mental health of his minor child without demonstrate a compelling state interest in such actions.
According to DeSantis, who said they have tracked and interpreted COVID-19 data correctly from the start, there is no peer-reviewed analysis or validated US studies that demonstrate a new need for masks, in especially for children.
“If you’ve been listening to some of the whispers going around, especially in Washington lately, listen to some of the things going around the CDC; there is a movement to try to impose more restrictions on the American people ”, DeSantis said. “And I just want to say that in Florida there will be no foreclosure. There will be no school closures. There will be no restrictions and no warrant in the state of Florida. “
Instead, parents will make the best choice for their children as he and his wife did for theirs, he said.
“I have young children” DeSantis said. “My wife and I aren’t going to mask the kids, we’ve never done it. I want to see my children smile.
If parents think otherwise, so is it, he said.
“At the same time, if a parent really thinks this is something that is important to their child, we don’t stop it”, DeSantis said. “They have every right to equip their students with the kind of mask they want and have them go to school if they think it’s important protection for their children. I think that’s the fairest way to do it, to let the parents make the decision.
Schools in Lee County have already decided to look more toward normal this coming school year, as some of the safety protocols have been relaxed for the return of students and teachers for back-to-school on August 10.
“Symptom-based isolation protocols are a major change. There is no doctor’s note required to return for low risk symptoms ”, said Lauren Stillwell, chief of staff for the school district. “The neighborhood switched to voluntary masks at the end of June. This will remain in place for the school year.
Although masks are optional for the 2021-2022 school year, the district encourages those who are not vaccinated to continue to wear a mask. For those who choose to wear a mask, they should follow the sartorial guidelines of the Code of Conduct for Students.
Students who are in the isolation room at school may be asked to wear a mask until their parent collects them from school.
The reason why a student should or should not wear a mask in the isolation room is related to the symptoms they are exhibiting. Health Services Coordinator Beth Wipf said some of the symptoms are not respiratory symptoms, such as headaches or diarrhea. If they have symptoms such as a cough, runny nose, or sneezing, they will be asked to wear a mask to protect staff and other students.
Board member Betsy Vaughn said it didn’t make sense to her.
“Even if they do not cough, the breath that comes out would be detrimental to the nurse or the clinical assistant there”, she said.
Vaughn also expressed concern about the “Honor system”, because in the state of Florida, you are not allowed to ask for proof of vaccination.
“Hopefully we see this peak every week increase from the Delta variant and people vaccinated against ruptured infections that may be asymptomatic, that we are a little more protective,” she said. “A little more proactive. We need to do a better job of educating our community on the facts and be very proactive in educating about the dangers. “
One of the changes this year is the categorization of symptoms into high risk and low risk.
“If a student or employee has low risk symptoms, we ask them to stay home. They must be asymptomatic for 24 hours without medication to return ”,Wipf said, adding that they won’t need a doctor’s note to return to campus.
Low risk symptoms include fever of 104 or higher, stuffy / runny nose, muscle or body pain, headache, fatigue, sore throat, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea .
“We may need to reduce some of our low risk symptoms to high risk,” Wipf said if advice was provided by the CDC and the Florida Department of Health Lee County.
High-risk symptoms include shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, coughing, and further loss of taste or smell.
Another change is that if an employee or student is fully vaccinated, two weeks after their second dose, they will not have to quarantine themselves. She said if the employee or student is not vaccinated, they must self-quarantine for 10 days. It could be reduced to seven days, with a return on the eighth day if they have a negative PCR test on the sixth day or later after exposure.
Stillwell said the Florida Department of Health had a list of those vaccinated and would be able to research if anyone could get off the quarantine list.
“At this point, the class teacher determines how to access the lessons during the quarantine” said Wipf.
There has been a lot of discussion around the question of the teacher. Many board members shared their concern about the need for district-wide consistency in how teachers will reach out to students so as not to lose so much teaching.
“My daughter had to be quarantined five times”, Board member Chris Patricca said.“My question is what consideration have we given to making up for lost learning time when students are forced into quarantine. “
Academic Director Dr Jeff Spiro said everyone will have Google Classrooms. He said that like last year, the teacher will determine whether or not to allow Zoom.
There are still negotiations with TALC that will determine what happens.
Spiro said it’s an art form of balancing face-to-face and teaching students on the computer.
If there is a positive case, the district will notify the school community via email, text, and phone call. The closure of a classroom, school and district will remain the same.
Stillwell said during a classroom quarantine last year that there were 5 percent of teachers, students or staff who tested positive for COVID over a 10-day period .
Executive Director of Safety, Security and Emergency Management Dave Newlan said social distancing will take place whenever possible. The regrouping will continue this year, with more flexibility in the constitution of the groups. Seating plans for classrooms, buses and dining rooms will continue to be retained.
Although hand sanitizer is available in key locations around the school, students are encouraged to bring their own. Students are also encouraged to bring their own water bottles and will have the option to refill them at the water filling stations.
High-frequency cleaning of common surfaces will continue to be carried out throughout the day, along with positive cleaning protocols triggered by cases. These protocols will take place when an individual has tested positive and has been in a district vehicle or building within 24 hours.
This year, sports facilities, locker rooms and gymnasiums will be open with cleaning schedules carried out for these areas. The playgrounds will be disinfected after each day and the hands will be washed before and after the game.
Buses will be cleaned up after morning and afternoon runners.
In addition, there will be regular cleaning with food safety officers in areas where food is prepared, stored and served and quarterly air filtration replacements will take place.
Newlan said that unlike last year, with only essential visitors able to enter campus, more relaxed protocols will be in place.
“If the school welcomes visitors and volunteers, a medical screening form must be completed. he said.
In addition, accurate information about their location and the students they work with will be kept.
Newlan said they ask unvaccinated visitors to wear masks and social distancing on campus. He said if they show any symptoms, they are asked not to come to school and to refer to their health care provider for testing and treatment.
Stillwell said the word is “soft” this year as they advance through the school year to ensure students and staff stay safe and healthy. She said schools would be more normal than last year, but with certain protocols in place to ensure the health and safety of students and employees.
“They can change throughout the year depending on health conditions and up-to-date advice from health professionals”, Stillwell said.
Wipf said current status data from July 16 to 22 shows that people 12 years and older who have been vaccinated represent 58%. During the same period, there are 1,650 positive cases of COVID-19 in Lee County.
“We know the Delta variant increases COVID numbers”, she said.
The overarching message, regardless of the numbers, is to protect students and staff by reminding students, employees and staff to stay home if they are sick, Wipf said. She is asking for their help in reducing COVID positivity and exposure numbers.
According to the 2020-2021 district-wide data, there were approximately 2,800 positive cases – 910 staff and 3,910 students. There were approximately 20,260 exhibits – 1,120 employees, 18,690 students and 446 unknowns.
The district COVID-19 information center will remain in place from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Those looking for information can call 239-356-2800. Stillwell said the first week of school those hours could be extended.