SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. — As Florida continues to see an upward trend in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, school systems across the state are shifting policies to protect students and staff from the risk of infection.
Tuesday, Sarasota County Schools Superintendent Dr. Brennan Asplen released new temporary protocols to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
Sarasota County Schools is temporarily suspending field trips and non-essential visitors and volunteers to campuses for the next 30 days.
"We will closely monitor the COVID situation relative to transmission of the virus in our schools and our worksites and re-evaluate the current conditions at that time," Asplen said. "We strongly encourage those who are not eligible for a vaccination or who are unvaccinated to wear a face mask when indoors."
For now, face coverings and masks are optional for Sarasota County Schools, as the superintendent cites Gov. Ron DeSantis' executive order to keep masks in schools up for parents to decide.
"Safeguarding our students, staff and community is of the utmost importance as we work together to minimize the disruption from covid-19," Asplen said.
Many schools are recommending masks for students and staff indoor, however, it is not required. Gov. DeSantis signed an executive order leaving face coverings in school ultimately up to the students' parents.
Hillsborough County School System is implementing a mask mandate for students inside campuses, unless parents opt-out of their child wearing a mask.
The ongoing COVID-19 surge in Florida continues to rival the peak last seen toward the beginning of the year — a period that had been considered the worst of the pandemic. The number of total hospitalizations with confirmed cases of COVID-19 climbed to 14,787 patients as of Aug. 10, according to the Florida Hospital Association. This is yet another day that Florida has set a new pandemic high for COVID-related hospitalizations.