2021-22 Back-to-School health and safety guide

Aug. 4, 2021 – Team Duval is opening schools on Tuesday, Aug. 10 with layers of health and safety practices to ensure students, staff, and the school community are safe.

Families are invited to familiarize themselves with the health and safety protocols outlined below. Additional information is also available on the district’s Back-to-School website.

Masks

  • What is the district’s mask policy?
    • After significant input from medical professionals and community members, the Duval County School Board approved a mask mandate with a medical opt-out on Monday evening during an emergency meeting.

      The new emergency mandate will be in effect for a period of 90 days beginning Tuesday, Sept. 7.

      It requires all students to wear a mask indoors on all school and district campuses and district-provided transportation unless they have a medical, physical, or psychological exemption from a licensed health care provider.

      The district will announce the procedure for the medical opt-out by the end of the day on Thursday, Aug. 26.

      Updates will be shared with families on this platform as well as emails, the district’s app, automated calls and social media.

      To read the School Board’s full emergency order, click here.

Safety measures

  • What sanitizing protocols are still in place? 
    • The district strongly encourages all students and staff to continue with good hygiene practices.  These include frequent hand washing, refraining from touching one’s face, keeping hands off others, covering sneezes, and staying home when ill.  In addition, the district will continue to provide adequate bathroom supplies. Updates to other protocols include the following:
      • Hand sanitizer – Hand sanitizer will be available for schools.
      • Sanitizing wipes – Additional sanitizing wipes will also be available for schools upon request.
      • Drinking fountains – Drinking fountains will be operational and available for student and staff use.
      • Anti-microbial spray – Antimicrobial surface protectant will be applied on or about every 60 days at each school site.
      • Transportation – Hand sanitizer and masks are available for use by students on buses.  Buses will be sprayed with antimicrobial surface protectant that kills COVID-19 virus to prevent surfaces from causing further infections.  School bus seating charts will be maintained and available to DOH as needed. 
  • Will there be temperature checks at schools for employees and/or students?
    • The district will continue to conduct daily morning temperature checks at our elementary and K-8 schools. Secondary schools will not be conducting temperature screenings as staff and students enter school each day. School clinics will have the ability to check temperatures when students feel ill. In addition, schools will have the ability to offer students TeleHealth options subject to written parent permission. More information regarding this service will be available prior to the start of the school year.

Students showing symptoms

  • Will sick students be allowed to remain in the classroom? 
    • Students who are showing symptoms of COVID-19 will be sent to the office or clinic following the normal school protocols.
  • Will there still be isolation rooms at the schools? 
    • Schools will have an isolation room/clinic for students who are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. This will be primarily staffed by trained health personnel. Each of the clinics will be equipped with disposable masks, and students will be socially distanced, as space permits.

Contact tracing/quarantine

  • How will contact tracing be conducted and who will be responsible for notification?
    • The district will work with the Department of Health – Duval (DOH). DOH is responsible for case investigation, contact tracing, and notification. The schools will continue to provide general notifications to their school communities when it has become aware of a reported COVID-19 positive case on its campus, and the COVID-19 dashboard will be updated.  

      The district will continue to require seating charts in all classes and on district transportation to assist in minimizing those who need to quarantine.  The district will share seating charts and contact information with DOH to assist with case investigations. 
    • Update regarding elementary schools – Because of the small percentage of COVID-19 cases undergoing contract tracing investigation from the Department of Health, Duval County Public Schools is putting into place two strategies to better inform families of COVID-19 in elementary school communities and prevent further spread.
      • First — Classroom communication – Beginning on or before Aug. 25, if a case impacts an elementary school, families of students in the class of the infected individual will receive a letter informing them of the case.  The letter will not be a quarantine or “stay-at-home” order. It will simply inform families of the increased possibility that their student may have been in close contact to a presumed positive case of COVID-19.
      • Second – Transition to online if a class has multiple cases – Also beginning on or before Aug. 25, the district will transition an elementary class to online learning if two or more cases impact that class within a seven-day period. The duration of online instruction will depend on the timing of the positive case but is expected to last between two and seven days in most cases.
    • More information about this update is available here: https://www.teamduval.org/2021/08/20/district-pivots-based-on-case-counts-and-lack-of-contact-tracing/
  • What are your quarantine guidelines?
    • The guidelines for determining who is required to stay home due to exposure to COVID-19 is updated by DOH and the CDC regularly, and Duval County Public Schools will continue to follow their guidance. 

      Currently, those individuals who have been immunized for COVID-19 or have had COVID-19 within the last three (3) months and are not exhibiting symptoms are not required to quarantine under current DOH guidelines. 
  • When is a student required to stay home and when can that student return? 
  • If a school or a classroom is required to close due to an outbreak of COVID-19, will the teachers and students transition to remote learning via Teams?
    • Yes, the students and teachers will transition to working remotely via Microsoft Teams.
  • What will be the process for providing students on quarantine with their assignments, so they are able to stay up-to-date with their lessons?
    • Because a majority of our teachers, students, and families are familiar with the Teams classroom sites, the district encourages teachers to continue using the site to post lessons, student assignments, and class notes.  Teachers are encouraged to continue using their normal process for providing assignments for absent students.  For students absent for a longer period, like a COVID-19 quarantine situation, parents can also request to receive assignments through their school counseling office if the teacher(s) are not using the Teams site.

The school day

  • Will there be social distancing within areas of the school, including classrooms, cafeterias, resource classes, and auditoriums? 
    • Social distancing is encouraged where possible.  Schools are encouraged to utilize outside spaces for large group meetings. 
  • Will elementary students be allowed to transition to resource classes (like art, music, and P.E.) this year?
    • Yes, elementary students can transition to resource classes, but this may be revisited if the district experiences a large outbreak or we receive different guidance from the Department of Health.  Resource classrooms will be cleaned using the normal COVID-19 classroom cleaning protocols. 
  • Will elementary students have recess and be allowed to use playground equipment?
    • Recess is required for 20 minutes daily for all students in grades K-5 and helps students achieve the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day for children and adolescents.  Below are guidelines for recess:
      • Students will wash or sanitize hands before and after recess.
      • The use of playground equipment or play structures is allowed, and students will be encouraged to use hand sanitizer after using the equipment.
      • Games and activities that do not require physical contact or for students to be in close proximity with each other should be encouraged.
      • Students will not be required to wear a face covering during recess.
  • Are students allowed to share school supplies?
    • Where possible, students are encouraged to use their own school supplies.
  • Will afterschool activities and clubs be allowed this year? 
    • At this time, we anticipate that afterschool clubs and activities will resume this year in person.  The district is requesting that all sponsors of activities adhere to the same protocol expectations that are implemented during the school day.
  • Will field trips be allowed this year? 
    • Yes, field trips will be allowed.  In addition to any protocols required by the field trip destination/vendor, all guidelines and permission slips will include the following protocols:
      • The parent/guardian will be encouraged to screen their child for symptoms of any illness prior to sending them to school the morning of the field trip.
      • The principal or their designee will maintain an accurate seating chart for each bus.
      • All participants will sanitize their hands prior to boarding the bus.
      • There will be no eating or drinking on the bus.
      • Chaperones will be equipped with hand sanitizer and additional disposable face masks.
      • Should a student and/or chaperone exhibit any symptoms of illness (for example, fever, cough, shortness of breath) while on the field trip or event, the individual will be moved to a predetermined location so they can be safely separated from the group and appropriate supervision will be provided. The principal or designee will contact the parent/guardian for pickup.

Athletics

  • When are athletic games subject to cancellation?
    • The decision to cancel an athletic event due to a COVID-19 outbreak will be made at the district level.  The district will continue to work in consultation with the Department of Health prior to making any determinations about cancelling athletic events.
  • Are there any additional protocols for athletic contests, such as reduced capacity or online ticketing?
    • The district will continue to provide online ticketing through GoFan.co, with no cash accepted at the gate to minimize contact between individuals.  We will also maintain the cleaning protocols in locker rooms, on benches, and at all athletic venues.  At the present time, we are expecting that all athletic contests will be held at 100% capacity for outdoor events and at 75% for indoor events.  We will continue to follow the guidance of the DOH, and we will communicate any changes to this plan through our available communication channels.

Visitors

  • Will parents and volunteers be allowed to visit classrooms and/or eat lunch in the cafeteria?
    • Beginning September 7, parents and others will be allowed to volunteer in the classroom while wearing a face mask.  Parents and visitors will not be allowed to eat lunch with students. All individuals will still need to follow the established procedures to be a classroom volunteer.

Wellness information

  • How can families help mitigate the spread of COVID-19?
    • Stay home if you are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.
    • Wear a mask
    • Stay 6 feet away from others outside of classrooms; 3 feet inside classrooms while with your classmates
    • Get vaccinated, if eligible
    • Avoid close contact with those who are sick
    • Wash your hands often
    • Cover coughs and sneezes
    • Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces regularly
    • Monitor your health daily
  • What are COVID-19 symptoms?
    • Fever or chills
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle or body aches
    • Headache
    • New loss of taste or smell
    • Sore throat
    • Congestion or runny nose
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Diarrhea
  • Where can I go if I’m ready to get vaccinated for COVID-19?
    • Our local Department of Health has established several free walk-in clinics for COVID-19 vaccines. Everyone over the age of 12 is eligible to receive the vaccine in Florida. Specific times and locations can be found at the DOH-Duval website at http://duval.floridahealth.gov. The district will soon be announcing vaccine clinics at each middle and high school for eligible students and staff.
  • When is someone considered “Fully Vaccinated”?
    • According to the CDC, people are considered fully vaccinated:
      • Two weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines; or
      • Two weeks after a single dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.
    • Continue to take precautions until (and even after!) you are fully vaccinated.