Back to class: School starts in Clay County with new safety protocols

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – Students headed back to school Tuesday in Clay County.

Parents had four options to choose from: Brick-and-Mortar, Clay Virtual Academy, OneClay Online or blended learning.

For students attending class in-person, masks are required for third grade and up and strongly recommended for younger students. Several more protocols are also in place to protect against the spread of COVID-19, including one-way hallways.

RELATED: One-way hall traffic meant to help social distancing in Clay County schools

School buses are under new precautions too due to the coronavirus pandemic. The following rules are in place for Clay County bus riders:

  • Students have to wear a mask or face covering on the buses.
  • If students do not have a face mask, they will be available on the buses.
  • Students will load the bus from the back to the front.

Clay County Schools Transporation Director Derald Sweatt said the district purchased 100 more buses to allow more routes, making it possible to space out students.

In keeping with school safety, the district says:

  • Schools will run a “Closed Campus” model where only students and staff are allowed on campus.
  • Appointments will be made for parents for IEP, 504, etc. meetings.
  • The district will reevaluate the “no visitors or volunteers” policy every nine weeks.

Hand sanitizer is placed throughout campus, and in the cafeteria, social distancing is marked with tape and arrows.

One of the main questions people have been asking the school district is what if a student tests positive for COVID-19?

If that happens, the student will need to stay home and the Department of Health will conduct contact tracing and notify any affected students or families

If someone who lives in the same household tests positive, the student should still self-isolate for the recommended 14-day period.

If a student or their family members are awaiting test results, the student shouldn’t return to school until the test results have been confirmed.

Clay County schools superintendent David Broskie said that while the district is working to keep kids safe, they need to be safe at home, too.


“Avoid large gatherings. If your child is sick, please keep your child at home while they’re sick in order to prevent it from going to other students at school,” Broskie said. “All of those safety measures, good hygiene, it’s important at school. It’s equally important at home.”

Broskie said Clay County welcomed close to 30,000 students back to school Tuesday, with about 9,000 choosing the virtual option.

While no plan is perfect, especially when it comes to COVID-19, Broskie had a reassuring message for parents.

“When I was here this morning, talking to teachers -- we have some of the most caring people in Clay County working with those young folks,” Broskie said. “We’re going to take the best possible care of each child that comes to school each and every day.”

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