JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For the first time on Tuesday, members of the media got a look inside at what schools in Duval County will look like as they prepare for students to head back on Thursday.
News4Jax took a tour of Fishweir Elementary in Avondale on Tuesday where school leaders said they are as ready as they can be.
School officials emphasized the main way to keep COVID-19 out of schools is by making sure someone infected with the virus doesn’t come in. Which is why safety protocols start the moment someone walks on to campus.
With less than 48 hours until students step back on campus, the Duval County school district is making a plea to parents.
“If your children are sick, please do not bring them to school,” said Dr. Tracy Pierce, a school district spokesman. “And don’t forget to wear a face mask. If we cover those bases, that’s a pretty strong defense.”
The precautions to keep students safe are evident from the moment students enter the classroom.
Every desk shield, door handle and pretty much everything in between will be wiped down multiple times a day, the district said.
On top of the daily cleaning, every three months all high-touch areas around the school will be coated with an extra layer of protection.
“What this does, is it’s a long term shield,” said James Bailey, Bio Supplies Director of Operations. “So if they touch something and then they touch the desk or something else after it doesn’t allow you to cross-contaminate.”
First-grade teacher Khrissy Olson says sharing is a thing of the past this school year.
“They’re not sharing this year. They’ll have their own math kit,” Olson said.
Also gone — a packed cafeteria.
Fishweir Principal Kimberly Dennis said the cafeteria will be one of the few areas around the school where students will be able to take off their masks. Which is why social distancing is so important during this time.
“This is a lot, it’s a lot, but we can do it. We can do it,” Dennis said.
That was the overwhelming consensus at the school today.
Teachers are prepared as they can be, and they are prepared if a student does get sick.
It’s all about having protocols in place, to be ready if that happens, the district said.
“If we get to a point where we have to quarantine a class, that’s what we would do. To as rapidly as possible, move that class to Duval HomeRoom,” said Pierce.
A school in Brantley County was forced to shut down last week after staff there tested positive for COVID-19 and others had to self-isolate.
Other schools have also had issues with positive cases during the first weeks of classes.