May 25, 2021 – Drawing from stakeholder feedback, CDC recommendations and feedback from local health officials, the district has decided that face masks on school campuses will be optional beginning next school year.
Because elementary students are not yet eligible for vaccines, face coverings for this group are strongly encouraged. District leaders are still considering whether face coverings will be required on buses. This decision will be communicated once determined.
In addition to dropping the mandatory face mask requirement on campuses, the district will also discontinue temperature checks in the 2021-22 school year. Desk shields will be discontinued in secondary schools but available for small group learning situations in elementary schools.
The use of microbial protectant, current cleaning practices, and availability of hand sanitizer will be continued, as will an emphasis on social distancing. Also, the district will continue to use the COVID-19 dashboard to help families understand the COVID-19 impact in their child’s school.
These decisions follow a stakeholder survey on COVID-19 safety measures in which more than 28,600 parents, students, school-based employees, and community members participated.
District leaders say the significant feedback from the survey, CDC and Florida Department of Health recommendations, input from local health experts, current rates of transmission, and availability of vaccinations are among the factors that shaped the COVID-19 mitigation strategies for next year.
These shifts will go into effect starting the first day of school, Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021.
However, summer learning will serve as a transition period, with face masks being strongly encouraged, but not required, pending Board action on a recommendation to waive face covering requirements in the current year code of conduct. Social distancing will also be continued.
The survey period ran from May 10 – May 24 with more than 28,600 stakeholders providing input on COVID-19 safety measures next year. Highlights include:
- Masks: Approximately 49% of stakeholders said masks should be optional. Another 26% said masks should be mandatory, and 22% said masks should only be mandatory in movement and crowded spaces.
- Temperature checks: Approximately 46% advised temperature checks should be continued, 19% advised it should only be taken if there is an outbreak, and 33% advised it should be discontinued.
- Desk shields: Approximately 41% said all desk shields should be removed, with 18% saying they should continue to be mandatory, and 19% saying they should be available to staff/students who wish to use them.
Here is a link to stakeholder survey results.