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'How will you keep teachers and students safe?' Polk County School District answers pandemic questions

Polk County Public Schools hosted Facebook Lives answering questions from concerned teachers and parents about returning back to school
Credit: WTSP

POLK COUNTY, Fla. — How will students safely social distance? Will students be regularly screened for COVID? How will teachers be safe from being exposed to the virus with so many students? Hundreds of questions focused on safety and health poured in during the two Facebook Lives hosted by Polk County Public Schools on Thursday.

School officials did their best to address them all as thousands of comments poured in as well. 

The first question was: will teachers have options when it comes to how they teach? The answer: yes. But teachers with medical issues will get priority for getting to ELearn over other healthy teachers. 

The school district is still figuring out its plan for teacher assignments and say once they know how many students plan on returning physically to the school, teachers will start to be alerted of their job requirement (ie: if they are ELearning or teaching in person). 

They say teachers will get more direction within the next week, before they are set to return to school Aug. 17. 

Will teachers who do ELearn have job security? Yes, they will. ELearning is not seen as something less than, it is dependent on how many students are choosing to stay home.

How will students safely social distance? "We will do our best to keep students at the CDC recommended social distancing of 6 feet apart. So trying to space them out as much as possible even in the small portable classrooms. 

What happens if there's an outbreak of COVID? That is up to the Polk County Department of Health. They determine what to do in a case like that. Contact tracing would be involved in this scenario. 

Will there be regular screening for the virus? There will be random daily screenings of 20 percent of the student population when we return to school. All staff will get daily temperature checks as well. 

Why can't PreK be offered virtually? PreK is a federal head start program that is voluntary as a result the federal law does not provide any waivers for face to face requirements. If they do provide a waiver then we will let people know they can select the E Learning model. 

Do younger students need to wear masks? Students in PreK will wear clear face shields because they need to see mouth movements to understand words. Kindergartners will need to wear masks though, the school district ordered 250,000 child-sized face masks for those younger students to wear. They will each get 5 smaller masks and can get more if needed. 

How many masks does the school district have? We ordered 500,000 masks in early April. 

Will there be cleaning supplies in classrooms? Yes, there will be cleaning supplies in classrooms provided by the district. 

Will there be a hard cap on class sizes? Not sure yet. It depends on how many students are returning to the classroom. 

How will students safely ride the bus? They will have hand sanitizer on the bus, will social distance and keep the windows open to ensure air circulation. 

How will they be provided safe drinking water? We will not be using any drinking fountains in the schools. I would say we would want to think about bringing your own bottles of water.

What are the consequences of someone lying about having COVID and coming to work? We would have to analyze their intent if it is malicious or not. We would have to investigate further before determining what to do consequence wise. 

Can teachers wear face shields instead of masks? Face masks are recommended over face shields. It is an option but face masks are preferred.

What if some teachers don't want to wear a mask? If staff doesn't wear masks it would be insubordination. Masks are to keep yourself and others safe so if you don't want to wear a mask you need to communicate that to your supervisor. You will be disciplined and so will students if they don't wear a mask. It goes to the point that we're all in this together. We are responsible for each other, we have a responsibility to make sure others are safe and masks help that. Medical experts recommend it. Unless you have a documented medical issue that prohibits you from wearing a mask then you need to address that early with your supervisor.

PCPS Parents and Students Live Chat

We're back, continuing to answer your questions... provided there are no further internet interruptions!

Posted by Polk County Public Schools on Thursday, July 30, 2020

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