Monday was the first day of school for students in two Northeast Florida and two Southeast Georgia counties.
Students in Baker, Bradford, Charlton and Pierce counties students either returned to campus or started their selected online option.
Most of the larger school districts in the area pushed back school start dates for a week or more due to a rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths. But a handful voted to keep their original school start date or delay it until Monday.
Each reopening plan looks a little different.
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The Baker County School District posted a document of health and safety guidelines for reopening campuses which includes strict sanitation and screening before school.
But masks will not be required on campus. They’re only optional.
Blakely Mallory, a rising senior at Baker County High School, said she probably won’t wear hers all of the time.
“I don’t want to. My mother is a nurse, so she’s probably going to insist on it. I’m not quite sure yet. I mean, I think it would come to different situations, you know, like crowded areas, I might. But just walking to class, I probably won’t,” Mallory said.
At first, Mallory was going to complete senior year online but later changed her mind.
“Playing sports, actually, that was the worst part about last year,” Mallory said. “I didn’t get to finish out my flag football season, so that was rough, but I’m hoping to get back at it this year.”
In Bradford County, after administrators realized that nearly one in eight students said they planned on leaving, the school district scrambled and rolled out an additional online option that allows students to learn from home.
Bradford Essentials lets students livestream classes from their house.
Masks on Bradford County campuses will be optional.
In Georgia, Charlton County voted to delay its school start date to Monday.
The school district has a plan that includes both traditional learning and virtual learning options.
At school, staff and students will not be required to wear masks.
In Pierce County, students returned to school on Monday, but there’s also a virtual learning option available for students to take classes online while remaining enrolled in the district’s school system.