Bay Area schools finalize back-to-school COVID protocols

Florida schools are reopening and districts are finalizing their COVID-19 protocols. Most Bay Area districts have similar protocols, which include optional masks, all in-person live instruction, and some support for quarantine students, however, no teachers will be doing simultaneous online and in-person teaching, like they did last year.

For most schools, it will feel more like a pre-pandemic atmosphere, especially for teachers. They won’t be required to do both in-person and online instruction. They’ll only be teaching kids in the classroom. 

If a student does have to quarantine, districts say they are taking steps to make sure the students will still get a good learning experience.

"We're going to strongly encourage every staff member and student to wear a mask. Even though we can't mandate it, we're going to encourage it," District 3 Hillsborough County School Board Member Jessica Vaughn said.

Still, many parents are feeling uneasy about sending their kids back to school knowing cases are surging in Florida.

"The cost of keeping them out of school would be catastrophic. We're going to have the schools open. We need the kids getting the education and I'm confident that things will go well," Governor Ron DeSantis said.

To make sure things go well, districts say they have special procedures in place to limit exposure, but not disrupt the learning process. 

In Pinellas County, if a vaccinated teacher or student comes in contact with an infected person, they won't be required to quarantine unless they’re symptomatic. Those who aren't vaccinated will have to quarantine for 10 days or until they get a negative test.

In Sarasota County, quarantined students will have work sent home with teachers available online to help. The same is being done in Pinellas County, except elementary students will have more options for live, online instruction from teachers in their core classes.

Tuesday, Vaughn gave FOX 13 a peek at protocols Superintendent Addison Davis plans to layout at a news conference Wednesday.

"We're going to make sure we're trying to switch teachers between classes instead of switching students, encouraging one-way walking down hallways, discouraging kids from gathering in the hall, really making sure we have hand-washing stations," Vaughn said.

Districts say they will be monitoring the case count and could adjust the protocols if needed, especially if a vaccine does become available for kids under 12.