Manatee County schools ready to reopen in era of masks, distancing

Stepping foot into school this year has some families feeling mixed emotions. 

"I think as a parent it’s hard not to be nervous. So many things are kind of in the wind and last minute and kind of all over the place," said Alana Fleischer. 

Alana Fleischer's daughter is a Manatee County student. While she has concerns, she's not overly worried about her daughter's school. 

"We are fortunate, the school my daughter goes to, that there are a lot of systems already set in place. The teachers know what’s going on. It’s not a big shock," she said. 

PREVIOUS: Manatee County school officials enlist parents' help fighting COVID-19

Over summer break, Fleischer instilled lessons she knows her daughter will follow. 

"The handwashing, the wearing of the mask inside. I think that's kind of prepped her for what school will be like.” 

The Manatee County School District will be the first in the Bay Area to reopen their doors to students on Monday morning. 

"We are going to set the example for other districts that are opening up in one week or two weeks so the other districts can learn a lot from us, but hopefully they are learning a lot of good things and we minimize the mistakes," said School Board vice chair Charlie Kennedy. 

Kennedy has concerns. He pushed for school to go virtual for two weeks, but was overruled. 

He asks parents and students for patience and understanding as they return to a new school year. 

"It's going to be a bumpy road these first few weeks, but our bottom line is to take care of the most basic needs of the kids and the families and then start building the academics on top of that as we get things down," said Kennedy. 

RELATED: How Manatee and Sarasota schools are planning for school during a pandemic

Face coverings will be required for students, though there will be some exceptions. Students can take a break from their face covering if they are outside and socially distant. 

Face coverings do not need to be worn at PE or recess, but they must be worn while walking to those activities. 

Teachers can remove their face coverings when alone and not in a shared space. 

Face shields will be allowed for students in elementary school and for those with disabilities, but students must be socially distant when wearing a shield.