St. Johns County schools will have substitutes, nurses on each campus upon reopening

Teachers undergo training on how to respond to students showing COVID-19 symptoms

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Classes begin Monday for St. Johns County students and officials with the district said they’re making sure each school has the resources it needs to handle any COVID-19 related problems.

In addition to hand sanitizer, digital thermometers, desk partitions, PPE and other equipment aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19, the district is also providing additional human resources to each campus.

“There will be 1-3 substitutes assigned to each school,” said St. Johns County School District spokeswoman Christina Langston. “This will be dependent on the size of the school.”

Superintendent Tim Forson told News4Jax in an interview Tuesday that those substitutes would be on hand for at least the first month of the school year.

“So that whatever the need is, whatever the demand is, we will have that set of hands,” Forson said. “These are also substitutes that, typically, the school is very comfortable with and has some experience with so they have a comfort level.”

The district recently hired 63 substitutes to help with covering school positions and now has the ability to call upon 564 substitutes.

At least two nurses will be stationed at each campus, according to the district.

Parents are asked to screen their children daily using the Student Health Screening Entry Form before heading to school.

Certain classrooms will also have a maximum capacity of students, according to Langston. Core classes in pre-K through 3rd-grade will have no more than 18 students seated in each classroom, 4th-grade through 8th-grade core classrooms are capped at 22 students and core high school classes will be allowed a maximum of 25 students in the classroom.

Langston added that elective courses may have more students in the classroom than core classes will.

Teachers have also been briefed on the protocol for dealing with a student who begins showing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 in the classroom.

“The protocol is completely in place and we’re being trained on that,” said Sharon Bell, a first-grade teacher at Liberty Pines Academy. “If a child is not feeling well and they’re feeling any of the COVID symptoms presented from the CDC, we actually have a form that we fill out that they take it straight to the office. There, they’ll decide if they’re going to an isolation room, or what steps need to be taken.”

St. Johns County School District leaders are also continuing a discussion about how to keep the public informed about COVID-19 cases in schools while protecting student privacy. That question became more complicated after the local health department office in Duval County directed the Duval County Public Schools district to cease the publication of campus-based COVID-19 data until approval is given from the Florida Department of Health.

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