FLORIDA, USA — Parents and students, we know it's hard to hear -- but back-to-school season will be here soon!
We're On Your Side keeping track of everything you need to know before the kids get on the bus for the first day of school -- including health plans to safeguard against the spread of COVID-19.
Bookmark this page for updates and changes county-by-county as we learn them.
Note: The U.S. Department of Agriculture extended its waiver for all schools to be able to offer free meals to all students, regardless of income, through June 2022. Click here to read more.
The first day of school in Baker County is Aug. 10.
Friday, June 25: For the 2021 through 2022 school year, Baker County Virtual Classroom will no longer be an option. If parents or guardians would like their child to continue with virtual instruction, they must be enrolled in Baker County My District Virtual School, District Virtual Instruction Providers, FLVS franchise or the statewide Florida Virtual School.
Initial enrollment for Baker County My District Virtual School runs through July 12. A second enrollment period will begin July 13 and end on Aug. 13. Enrollment for the second semester will begin Nov. 8 and end on Jan. 7, 2022.
For more information on how to enroll, click here.
The first day of school in Bradford County is Aug. 10.
Thursday, July 29: Following the CDC's revised guidelines that all students should wear masks in schools regardless of vaccination status, a Bradford County Schools spokesperson told First Coast News that masks are permitted, but not required.
Monday, July 5: Information on Bradford County Schools' virtual programs can be found on the district's web page Resources for Parents and Students. You can also email specific questions to ESSENTIALS@mybradford.us or SELECT@mybradford.us.
The first day of school in Clay County is Aug. 10.
Monday, Aug. 2: Teachers can stock up their classrooms at the Clay Education Foundation's annual Tools 4 Clay Schools program. The Free Teacher Store at Orange Park Junior High School will be open from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday for teachers to "shop." It's located at the "Wildcat" Portable.
Tuesday, July 27: Following the CDC's revised guidelines that all students should wear masks in schools regardless of vaccination status, a Clay County Schools spokesperson told First Coast News the district is currently following its Smart Restart Phase II plan approved by the board earlier this month, which says face masks are recommended but not required. "If any changes are made they will be announced," the spokesperson said.
Tuesday, July 20: Clay County Schools approved its Smart Restart Phase II Plan for 2021 through 2022.
The plan includes some of the following measures:
- Extra spacing, assigned seating and staggered arrival times in the cafeteria.
- Desk spacing, assigned seating and cleaning protocols in classrooms.
- Face masks will be recommended and highly encouraged, but not mandated, when social distancing cannot be maintained.
Students will have the option of brick-and-mortar learning or Clay Virtual Academy. Click here to learn more.
See below for the full plan.
Wednesday, June 23: The DOH is urging parents and guardians to beat the rush and schedule students' immunizations early. The Bear Run Clinic will offer all required vaccinations and documentation for Clay County School District students, including COVID-19 vaccines, by appointment only. Click here for more information and to schedule an appointment.
The first day of school in Columbia County is Aug. 11.
Tuesday, Aug. 3: Columbia County Schools released the following COVID-19 protocols ahead of the start of the school year.
"If you have any allergy type symptoms…STAY HOME!!!! Go see your doctor!!!!!!
For the 2021 – 2022 school year…there is no Federally Funded COVID Leave.
- School start date for students will begin Wednesday, August 11, 2021. Teachers report August 3, 2021.
- Effective immediately masks and/or face shields are are highly recommended for all employees and students while on campus or school board property in situations where they cannot socially distance themselves
- The district highly recommends that everyone eligible be vaccinated.
- Everyone should wash hands, social distance and wear mask!
- Elementary schools will stagger start times for PK – 1 for the first three days of school. PK – 1 parents wearing masks will be allowed to walk their child to class on the first three days of school. New enrollees are included in this group.
- Google Classroom training will be Thursday, August 5 at the school level.
- No non-FHSAA field trips for the first nine-weeks.
- All non-essential large gatherings are postponed or alternative small groups may be used (Orientation by appointments for K - 5, 6th, 7th (LCMS), 9th).
- We will continue a high level of cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting all campuses and buses.
- All water fountains will be shut off.
- Visitors/Volunteers – All campuses will be closed for the start of the 2021-2022 school year until further notice.
- Covid-19 training for staff
- 13. Quarantining - follow same procedures as 2020-2021 school year."
Thursday, July 29: Following the CDC's revised guidelines that all students should wear masks in schools regardless of vaccination status, a Columbia County Schools spokesperson told First Coast News the district is highly recommending masks for everyone.
Monday, July 19: Back-to-school orientation and meet-the-teacher dates and times have been set. Click here for a list of dates and times by school and grade level.
Wednesday, June 30: There is a Back-to-School Bash and Health Fair set for Aug. 5 from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Christ Central, 217 SW Dyal Ave., Lake City.
Thursday, June 3: Classes and extracurricular activities will continue in a brick-and-mortar setting, the school district announced in a letter sent to parents and shared on its Facebook page.
Columbia Virtual Academy will also be offered full-time as a new option for the 2021 through 2022 school year. Click here to read more about the process of enrolling in CVA or traditional brick-and-mortar schools.
The first day of school in Duval County is Aug. 10.
Monday, Aug. 9: It's the last day for parents to register their child for Duval Virtual Instruction Academy. Click here for instructions on how to access the DVIA enrollment form.
Thursday, Aug. 5: The Duval Schools website now includes information on how parents can opt their kids out of wearing a mask under new guidelines. "The district is currently working on an online process through FOCUS -- our student information system -- for parents and guardians to inform the district that their child will not be wearing a face mask. Details will be announced to families once the online process is in place."
See the following Q&A from the district's site for more details:
- When will the form be available?
- We will announce this process by Aug. 6.
- What is the deadline to fill out the form?
- There is no deadline. Students will be opted out once the parent or guardian completes the form.
- What happens if a student is not opted out and does not wear a mask?
- Parents and guardians are expected to make their children aware of their expectations regarding face coverings. School staff will strongly recommend that a student who is not opted-out wear a face mask and will provide a mask if needed. However, the absence of a face covering will not be a disciplinary issue. We will ask parents or guardians to complete the opt-out form if children are not wearing a mask. Teachers, as they did last year when masks were mandatory, will manage their classrooms to maintain an academic focus without masks becoming an issue or impediment to learning.
- Do those who opt out of mask-wearing have to demonstrate any cause or provide any specific reason as to why they are opting out?
Tuesday, Aug. 3: The Duval County Public School Board voted to add language to the 2021-2022 Student Code of Conduct concerning mask-wearing in schools to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The district did not officially issue a mask mandate, in compliance with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' executive order banning school districts from doing so. However, the school board voted in favor 5-2 to add language to the Code of Conduct requiring that students opt out of wearing masks.
The amendment passed by the school board reads:
"Any student not wearing a mask pursuant to this policy must, through his/her/their parent or guardian, complete the opt out procedures provided by his/her/their assigned school."
Thursday, July 29: Registration is now open for DCPS Extended Day program. To register, click here. You may experience an error message when trying to register due to high website traffic, the district says. If you do, exit the page and try again.
Tuesday, July 27: Following the CDC's revised guidelines that all students should wear masks in schools regardless of vaccination status, a Duval County Public Schools district spokesperson sent First Coast News the following statement:
"The district is in consultation with the Florida Department of Health-Duval this week to review the new guidance from the CDC and discuss health and safety guidelines going into the new school year."
Wednesday, July 21: The Duval County Public Schools district sent First Coast News a new statement related to the uptick in positive COVID-19 cases in Jacksonville:
"The district strongly recommends that unvaccinated students wear masks unless medical or developmental conditions prohibit use.
The wearing of facial coverings is optional for the school-day and school-related events including bus transportation.
Should recommendations from the Florida Department of Education, the Florida Department of Health, and/or the City of Jacksonville be revised, the district may revise its requirements to comply with updated guidance.
The district will provide details in the near future regarding registration options for Duval Virtual Instruction Academy."
Tuesday, July 20: The Duval County School Board held a workshop Tuesday morning to talk about school-related topics, but COVID-19 protocols and mask guidelines were not on the agenda. Duval County Public Schools says its COVID-19 guidance issued in May have not changed. Those measures include:
- Face masks on school campuses will be optional beginning next school year, and "strongly encouraged" for elementary school students who are not yet eligible for vaccines.
- Masks, hand sanitizer and other protective gear will be available for students as needed on school buses.
- Temperature checks will be discontinued for 2021 through 2022 school year.
- Desk shields will be discontinued in secondary schools but available for small group learning situations in elementary schools.
- Microbial protectant, current cleaning practices and availability of hand sanitizer will be continued, as will an emphasis on social distancing.
- DCPS will continue to use its COVID-19 dashboard to help families understand the pandemic's impact in their child's school.
DCPS says should recommendations from the Florida Department of Education, the Florida Department of Health, and/or the City of Jacksonville be revised, the district may revise its requirements to comply with updated guidance.
Monday, June 14: School transportation registration is open now. Families must register through their parent/guardian Focus account to have school bus services (with the exception of ESE services).
Bus stop information will be available after July 27.
The first day of school in Nassau County is Aug. 10.
Monday, Aug. 2: The Nassau County Back-2-School Bash scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 7 has been canceled. The Nassau County, FL Facebook page announced the cancellation, saying "The health and safety of our residents is our number one priority. With the recent rise of COVID cases in the County, we do not feel it would be responsible to host an event that promotes gathering of crowds and interaction of large groups of children prior to sending them back to school." The post says the county looks forward to hosting special events in the future when it is safer to do so.
Thursday, July 29: The Florida Department of Health in Nassau County is hosting a back-to-school immunization clinic Saturday, July 31, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Nassau's Yulee Clinic, located at 86014 Pages Dairy Rd. Children can get all of the vaccines required for school, plus anyone 12 and older can receive the COVID-19 vaccine. No appointment is needed!
Tuesday, July 20: Nassau County School District says it's "working in collaboration with all state and local governments and the Florida Department of Education to prepare and respond to the coronavirus."
As new information is available, it will be posted here.
The first day of school in Putnam County is Aug. 17.
Monday, Aug. 9 (Event on Aug. 14): Florida Health Putnam County, LIBERTY Dental Plan of Florida, and First Baptist Church of Interlachen invite elementary school students and their families to a Back-to-School Bash on Saturday, Aug. 14, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event is free and includes dental assessments, fluoride varnish applications, lunch boxes, and backpacks with school supplies.
For more information about the event, please call 386-227-0556.
Tuesday, July 27: Following the CDC's revised guidelines that all students should wear masks in schools regardless of vaccination status, a Putnam County school district spokesperson sent First Coast News the following statement:
"For the 2021-22 school year, the Putnam County School District will continue to work in close partnership with local health officials to determine protocols related to COVID-19. Masks will be optional for all staff and students. We are continuing all safety precautions that were implemented during the 2020-21 school year including working with public health partners to contact trace all positive cases, utilizing enhanced cleaning procedures, maintaining a COVID-19 triage health room at each school with dedicated staff, and requiring all staff and students who present with COVID-19 symptoms to stay home and follow possible case protocol."
Tuesday, June 8: Due to funding and a shortage of workforce in its transportation department, the Putnam County School District says it will no longer be able to provide transportation for students who live within two miles of their school. The change may not impact current transportation plans provided to students served through the ESE Department. Many bus routes are expected to change. The 2021-22 bus route schedule is expected to be released in July. Click here for the full letter explaining the change. If you have any questions, please call the Department of Transportation at 386-329-0553.
The first day of school in St. Johns County is Aug. 16.
Tuesday, Aug. 3: The St. Johns County school board unanimously voted to approve a new dress code policy. This includes no longer separating different dress code policy sections for boys and girls and removed measurement requirements for shorts, skirts and dresses. Click here to read the full policy.
Tuesday, July 27: The St. Johns County School Board held a workshop, which included the discussion of proposed changes to the code of conduct and dress code for the upcoming school year. But, no action or decisions were made. The board will tweak its initial proposal, with the next version to be presented at another workshop on Tuesday, Aug. 3, at 9 a.m.
Also Tuesday, a St. Johns County School District spokesperson told First Coast News that no changes have been implemented following the CDC's updated guidance for all students to wear masks in schools regardless of vaccination status. Masks will be optional on campus and SJCSD transportation.
Tuesday, July 20: The St. Johns County School Board approved several COVID-19 health and safety protocols last week. They include some of the following:
- Face masks will be optional in schools and on district transportation.
- Temperature checks will no longer be held daily.
- Desk shields will no longer be mandatory.
- Social distancing at a spacing of 3 feet or more will be encouraged "to the extent possible."
- Hand sanitizer, soap and water will be provided and frequent cleaning and disinfection will continue.
- Sporting events will take place with no more than 75% capacity or 1,500 spectators in stadiums (no more than 75% capacity in auditoriums/gymnasiums).
See the full list of protocols below.
Friday, July 16: It's the last day for parents to complete the St. Johns County School District Dress Code Survey in an effort to draft a new dress code to "support a safe and positive school climate. The dress code should be fair, equitable and consistent for all students, as well as remain in accordance with Florida Statute §1006.07 (Students are prohibited from wearing clothing that exposes underwear or that exposes body parts in an indecent or vulgar manner). Enforcement will focus on guidance without embarrassment to the student and should not disrupt the educational process."
Friday, July 30: First Coast News reached out to the Diocese of St. Augustine about their school mask policy for catholic schools.
This is a change from the statement previously put out prior to the governor's announcement about mask mandates in Florida schools. Conway also said their schools will be encouraging masks for everyone.
The first day of school in Union County is Aug. 11.
Wednesday, Aug. 4: Following the CDC's revised guidelines that all students should wear masks in schools regardless of vaccination status, a Union County Schools spokesperson told First Coast News that masks will be optional for the new school year.
Tuesday, July 20: Click here for a list of transportation routes for Union County's school bus lineup.
The first day of school in Brantley County is Aug. 3.
Tuesday, July 20: The Brantley County School System shared its Welcome Back Plan for the 2021-2022 school year. It includes information on cafeteria safety (hand sanitizer will be provided), the first day of school, open house, large group gatherings, quarantining, safety measures, sports and transportation.
Open House dates will be Thursday, July 29 for Brantley County High School and Middle School and Friday, July 30 for Brantley County Primary and Elementary schools.
The first day of school in Camden County is Aug. 2.
Monday, July 26: Camden County Schools announced that students, staff and visitors will be required to wear a mask in all schools, offices and buildings to start the 2021 school year.
Thursday, June 24: Open House times have been announced for July 30. High school will take place from 9 to 11 a.m., Elementary School will be from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. and Middle School will be from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Monday, June 28: Parents or guardians who want to request a transfer for their student to another public school within their local school district may fill out a transfer request form by clicking here. The deadline is July 16.
The first day of school in Charlton County is Aug. 9.
Tuesday, July 20: For a list of coronavirus resources, click here.
Thursday, July 15: Open House is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 5. For a list of times that you can walk through your child's schedule and meet their teachers based on which school they attend, click here.
The first day of school in Glynn County is Aug. 10.
Tuesday, July 27: The Glynn County School Board discussed the possibility for COVID-19 restrictions heading into the new school year. At "level green," face masks would be optional in classrooms and required on school buses riding to and from school. One board member, a medical professional, urged the school board to reconsider and require masks at the beginning of the school year.
Tuesday, July 20: Click here for the Glynn County Back-to-School Information Center, which includes details on school supply lists, health clinics, breakfast and lunch menus, open house, transportation and bus route information and more.
Monday, June 28: The Glynn County Health Department is holding no-cost vision, hearing, dental and nutrition screenings for Glynn County Schools students. Immunization services will also be available at regular cost.
They're taking place 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursdays throughout July at the Glynn County Health Department, located at 2747 Fourth Street in Brunswick.
Students will be seen on a first come, first served basis and no appointment is necessary. For additional information, call the Glynn County Health Department at 912-264-3961.
The first day of school in Pierce County is Aug. 4.
Tuesday, July 20: The Pierce County Schools' Reopening Safely Plan is available online by clicking here.
Open House is set for Aug. 2 and scheduled by grade level and the student's last name. Any daily medications for students should be signed in by a parent or guardian to the school nurse clinic during Open House. Click here for more information.
The Reopening Safely Plan also includes information on assemblies/large group gatherings, cafeteria procedures, communication, extracurricular activities and athletics, field trips, healthy schools procedures, transportation, visitor procedures and options for student learning (brick-and-mortar or virtual learning).
The first day of school in Ware County is Aug. 4.
Thursday, June 24:
The Ware County School System released its Opening Plan for the 2021 through 2022 school year, with details on safety measures for next year and options for face-to-face and digital instruction. Click here to see the full document, or scroll down to view below.