Okaloosa School District updates COVID-19 protocols after decline in cases

Last week, the Okaloosa County School District had 42 cases.

The 2nd nine-weeks of school in Okaloosa County will look a little different as the Okaloosa School District has updated their COVID-19 protocols citing a decline in positive cases.

“Parents can see from our Dashboard, which is updated daily, that we have experienced a substantial decrease in COVID-19 cases,” said Superintendent Marcus Chambers. “An approximately 90% decrease from the high period at the end of August.”

A few highlights of the changes effective 10/08/2021 are below:

  • Field trips will be permitted at this time. Wellness checks will be performed for students, employees, and parent chaperones prior to departure.
  • Wellness checks will still happen for asymptomatic students whose parents allow them to attend school after they have been identified as a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case.
  • The District will still maintains a testing site for COVID-19.
  • Schools may resume normal indoor school activities and events.
  • Parents will be permitted to come to school for parent conferences; virtual meetings may be available upon parent request.
  • Parents, visitors, and essential volunteers are permitted as determined by the principal.

During last Thursday’s Board Workshop, Chambers noted that the week of August 28th, the District had about 537 cases for that week (includes students and staff). Looking at data for the week of September 25th, Chambers said they had about 83 cases for that week.

  • Last week, the OCSD had 42 cases.

As for COVID Testing Sites, that will still continue at the Central Office in Niceville. However, north and sound-end testing sites will no longer happen due to the decrease in cases.

“The testing company is not able to do so because of the fact that that cases seem to be coming down,” explained Chambers. “They don’t have the ability to staff additional sites based on the data. If anything were to change, we would do that but right now they’re going to continue to stay at the Central Complex.”

On Wednesday, September 22, Florida State Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo issued Emergency Rule 64DER21-15 which modified quarantine requirements for contact-traced students in school districts throughout Florida.

The rule now gives parents the ability to keep their unvaccinated child in school if they are known to be close contacts to a positive COVID-19 case as long as they remain asymptomatic.

  • Previously, unvaccinated students who were close contacts to a positive COVID-19 case were required by the Department of Health to quarantine for up to seven days regardless of whether or not they had symptoms.
  • Vaccinated students who were identified as close contacts have always been permitted to attend school as long as they had no symptoms.

“Being in school is critical for the overall well-being of our students,” said Chambers. “Our plan strikes a sensible balance that emphasizes your student’s success at school while also being mindful of the steps we need to take to keep our school environments safe.”

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