Duval County schools extend spring break until March 22

Some parents worried about feeding their kids all week because their students rely on free and reduced lunches.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Superintendent Diana Greene announced Friday afternoon that students and teachers will get a second week of spring break “out of an abundance of caution” to minimize the risk of exposing anyone to coronavirus.

“It is never an easy decision to alter school operations. As a parent and school leader, I know the impact it has on families and employees and the community,” Greene said.

The extended break also allows the schools to better prepare and implement mitigation strategies to help prevent the community spread of the virus. Classroom instruction is now expected to resume on Monday, March 23. The only exception to the complete closure of schools to students is SAT testing scheduled for Saturday, which will go forward.

LIST: School closures announced in Northeast Florida amid COVID-19 pandemic

Anyone showing symptoms, exposed to a patient positive for COVID-19 or who just returned from international travel or a cruise is asked to not attend.

Greene said the district is not aware of any student, employee or families with COVID-19.

In addition to schools remaining closed an extra week, all after school extracurricular activities including athletic events, field trips and other organized activities until further notice. Once students return from the extended spring break, student-athletes and performance group practices can resume, Greene announced.

“We are going to be working this weekend to evaluate all options and opportunities we can support our families and the community through next week and more information will be coming out to our schools Saturday and Sunday," Greene said.

The school district is also asking all employees to fill out a Spring Break Post Travel survey by 1 p.m. Sunday. Teachers and staff will find a link in their email.

Duval County Public Schools website on Friday listed several additional steps being done in response to COVID-19:

  • Disinfected and sanitized all schools and school buses.
  • Adapted our daily cleaning procedures to focus on the frequent sanitization of frequently touched surfaces including door handles, desks, and keyboards.
  • Canceled all field trips until further notice.
  • Instituted re-entry procedures for families who traveled to high-risk areas. (If your family traveled to a high-risk area, please do not come to a school. See further instructions below).
  • Any employee who has traveled to a high-risk area or who has had close contact with another person who has been in a high-risk area to self-isolate for two weeks, and we are reviewing leave procedures for possible accommodations for employees.
  • Preparing for the potential of a large scale closure and conversion to online learning if health officials advise or direct public schools to close.

SAT testing will be held as planned on Saturday at the following schools: First Coast, Sandalwood, Mandarin, Jackson, Ribault, Fletcher, Ed White, Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, Westside and Terry Parker.

Richard Corcoran, Commissioner of the Florida Department of Education, also recommended schools around the state extend spring break.

“Keeping students healthy and safe is my number one priority, and that is why we are recommending that districts follow the CDC’s guidance for Florida,” said Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran. “We are continuing to monitor COVID-19, and I encourage all Floridians to remain informed and take the necessary precautions that have been issued by the CDC.”

Earlier Friday, Bolles, Episcopal and Providence announced they will offer online-only classes when their students return from spring break and announced the start of state testing will be delayed by a minimum of two weeks.

All this comes the morning after the Florida Department of Health announced the first positive cases in Duval and Clay counties. Cases in St. Johns and Nassau counties were announced earlier in the week. The Florida Department of Health has announced there are 42 positive cases of COVID-19 in the state.

More than a dozens school systems in Georgia -- mostly in metro Atlanta -- plan to close for at least one week, many for two and some indefinitely. In Southeast Georgia, no school districts have announced closures but athletic events and some other activities have been canceled.

As of Friday morning, there were 42 confirmed cases in Georgia.

About the Authors: