ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – St. Johns County students return classrooms Monday morning faced numerous new rules and requirements put in place to keep everyone safe and healthy amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Face masks are required for students, faculty and staff, temperatures will be taken at the beginning of the day, and cafeterias and other gathering spots are different.
Visitors and volunteer access to campus will be restricted. Visitors and volunteers must be on official school business by appointment.
The school district spent nearly $2.5 million outfitting the school buildings with desk barriers, cleaning supplies, technology upgrades and signage to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus as much as possible.
Some parents said they had confidence the schools were safe and the students were ready.
“I know the school is taking a lot of precautions,” said Samantha Lynch, whose 7-year-old is in second grade at Freedom Crossing Academy. “I spoke to my child about what he needed to do and how he should behave. I think he is prepared.”
A fifth-grader at Freedom Crossing was also convinced adequate precautions were in place.
“They have a shield around the desk, so nobody worries if you are too close or too far,” Malania Montanez said.
If a student tests positive for COVID-19 in spite all the efforts to protect them, per CDC guidelines, only those with close personal contact to the student must quarantine. The CDC defines close personal contact as being within 6 feet of a positive individual for 15 minutes.
The school district shut off the drinking spouts on all water fountains, so a reusable water bottle will help keep your student hydrated throughout the day.
Also, even though it’s available throughout all school buildings, some hand sanitizer is a good idea for your student’s backpack — as are tissues to safely cover any coughs or sneezes.
In St. Johns County, neck gaiters are acceptable face coverings, according to the school district. Masks will be required anywhere social distancing isn’t possible.
At mealtimes, a resealable bag or container is useful for keeping the mask free of contamination.
Superintendent Tim Forson told News4Jax last week that he’s hopeful that the virus will taper off and that the school year won’t be disturbed or interrupted.
“Once school opens and once we have that structure in the lives of many of our families, we’re really hopeful that we don’t see an increase but really a decline because of the way things are set up within the school and within the community. Our community seems to be really well committed to doing the right thing,” Forson said.
For those who are distance learning this school year, the district is providing meal pick up service at the following times:
- Middle Schools and Gaines/Transitions: 8:30-9 a.m.
- Elementary Schools and K-8 Schools: 9-9:30 a.m.
- High Schools: 9:45-10:15 a.m.
- Gamble Rogers Middle School: 8-8:30 a.m.
Pickups are at your child’s school. Cash will not be accepted, and you have to prepay online at PayPAMS. Contact your school’s cafeteria manager about the pickup location.