With the first day of school on the horizon, the Okaloosa County School District has released new COVID-19 information for parents as it pertains to the upcoming school year.
“We’ve taken a three-pronged approach that focuses on student’s safety, academic growth and mental health,” said Superintendent Marcus Chambers. “Each of these areas are critically important to the development of our students. As we have prepared for the upcoming school year, we felt it important to review data from last year provided by the department of health.”
According to Chambers, data from last year in Okaloosa County schools led the District to return to more “normal school operations.”
“With safety measures in place last year, the Department of Health quarantined 10,396 students through contact tracing that occurred in our schools,” continued Chambers. “It’s important for our parents to know that of the 10,396 quarantine events, only 1.3% of the students developed COVID as a result of transmission within the schools.
Chambers added that although the OCSD would like to see zero transmissions between students in the schools, this was still an exceptionally low rate.
“That means that almost 99% of contact traced students did not develop COVID,” said Chambers. “Our goal is to keep healthy students in school.”
With that goal in mind, the OCSD created a Q&A Guide for parents that will provide more specific information on how Okaloosa schools will operate this year.
“At this time, we are allowing students with no COVID symptoms to remain in school in order to balance the student’s health with their academic growth and mental and social, emotional wellbeing,” said Chambers. “Rest assured, we will still have procedures in place to keep our buildings clean and sanitized with safety measures implemented.”
A few highlights from the new Guide:
- Masks were not required last year, and they will not be required this year. Parents are welcome to provide a mask for their child if they choose. Schools will have a supply of masks available.
- Wellness/temperature checks will not be done daily upon arrival to school.
- Normal school activities such as field trips will resume. Athletic events and extracurricular activities such as band and choral concerts will occur as normal.
- Parents will be able to volunteer in classrooms this fall and chaperone trips.
- Desk barriers are not part of the classroom plan this year but will be available if requested by a parent.