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Duval County Schools announces new COVID-19 mitigation measures amid surge in cases

The measures include requiring face masks for employees when working with students and when unable to social distance.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — (Note: The video above is from a previous report.)

As students prepare to return to classrooms on Jan. 4, Duval County Public Schools has announced several temporary measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19 amid the current surge in cases.

The measures include requiring face masks for employees when working with students and when unable to social distance. DCPS says masks will also be required for visitors to schools.

Field trips have been suspended for the month of January and events will be limited to 75% capacity.

The school district sent out a letter sharing the new measures with families and employees on Sunday.

In the letter, DCPS explains that all schools have been cleaned and sanitized over the holiday break and that all schools will continue to be treated with an antimicrobial surface protectant every 60 days.

The district will have plenty of hand sanitizer, soap, and disinfectant wipes available for students and staff, according to the letter.

DCSP says the measures will be evaluated at the end of the month to determine if they need to be extended into February.

You can read the full letter below.

Dear families,

We hope that you and your children have had a wonderful holiday break and are rested and ready for school to begin on Tuesday, Jan. 4. 

Because we are again re-opening our classrooms during another COVID-19 surge, we want to assure you that all schools have been cleaned and sanitized over the holiday break. Additionally, all schools continue to be treated with an antimicrobial surface protectant every 60 days, and we will have plenty of hand sanitizer, soap, and disinfectant wipes available.

We also continue to work with the Florida Department of Health—Duval, local health experts, and other health agencies to identify effective and lawful mitigating measures. In response to this surge, the following measures will be implemented during January:  

  • Visitors will be required to wear face masks at schools and district offices.
  • Employees will be required to wear face masks when working with students or when unable to social distance.
  • Field trips are temporarily postponed. 
  • Capacity at athletic and performing arts events will be reduced to 75%. All individuals should practice social distancing when possible.
  • Employee meetings will be conducted via virtual platforms when possible.
  • Common gathering areas should be closed, or capacity reduced.
  • Out of district travel is temporarily suspended. 
  • District office hours will be limited for visitors.  Visitors should be encouraged to call offices in advance and report to designated areas only.

The district will evaluate conditions at the end of January to determine if any of these measures need to be extended, but as we have learned through previous pandemic surges, we do our best at mitigating the spread of COVID-19 when we all do our part. Please assist by taking these five precautions:

  1. If your child has COVID-19 symptoms, please stay home from school. These symptoms may include fever, cough, sore throat, difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, new loss of taste or smell, fatigue, and headache. If your child is exhibiting any of these symptoms, seek medical guidance and stay home from school.
  2. Strongly consider having your student wear a face mask. Under Florida law, school districts can no longer require the use of face masks for students. However, we strongly recommend face masks for all students and staff, especially in areas where social distancing is not possible.
  3. Get vaccinated. COVID-19 vaccines are now widely available throughout the community for children five years old and older. Duval County Public Schools is working with the Florida Department of Health—Duval to host vaccination clinics at some school sites on Saturday, Jan. 8 and Jan. 29 from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Specific locations will be announced soon at www.duvalschools.org.
  4. Continue to report positive tests to your schools. If your child tests positive for COVID-19, please continue to report that information to your schools. We will then report that positive test to the Florida Department of Health- Duvalwhich will conduct a case investigation to determine close contacts. The department will notify families of any student determined to be a close contact to a person diagnosed with COVID-19 and provide further guidance.
  5. Be ready in case your child begins to exhibit COVID-19 symptoms in school. Students who develop symptoms of COVID-19 during the school day will be sent to a supervised isolation room until an approved adult can pick that student up. A parent or guardian of that student will receive a free, Ellume COVID-19 test kit (while supplies last and waiver signature required) to be completed at home.  

Please stay safe and healthy as you enjoy the rest of the holiday break, and we look forward to seeing students back in class on Jan. 4, 2022!