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School districts urge caution as Thanksgiving break begins

Students urged to wear masks, social distance

ORLANDO, Fla. – Schools sent their students home for Thanksgiving break with a list of suggestions this holiday season as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently asked people to skip sharing a meal with anyone who does not live in their house this Thanksgiving.

The holidays come as the United States continues to set daily records for COVID-19 cases. More than 182,000 new cases were reported across the U.S. Thursday alone.

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That is more than double the number of cases reported on Nov. 1, when the U.S. had just above 74,000 cases in a single day.

News 6 spoke with school districts across Central Florida to hear their messages to students.

“As they return from their Thanksgiving break, we want to make sure they haven’t been exposed, there aren’t any potential exposures and if someone is feeling sick, don’t travel,” Michael Lawrence with Seminole County Public Schools said. “If you’re feeling sick after Thanksgiving, please do not come to school. We want to make sure we’re looking out for everybody.”

Seminole County parents received this message Friday sent from the superintendent:

As we head into the Thanksgiving Break and begin celebrating our usual festive holiday traditions, here are some healthy reminders to help keep your family and our community safe!

If you’re planning to host a large gathering, please remind your guests to:

  • Stay home if they’re sick
  • Encourage social distancing
  • Wear masks
  • Clean and sanitize hands often
  • Limit the number of guests and people handling or serving food
  • And limit contact with commonly touched surfaces or shared items

If you’re traveling during the break:

  • Check travel restrictions before you go
  • Research in advance to see if COVID-19 cases are increasing or high in your destination location
  • And remember to always wear a mask in public settings, when using public transportation, and when around people who you don’t live with

Following these simple steps will help ensure us a successful start when we all return on Monday, November 30th.

Lastly, as you enjoy your well-deserved time off, please remember to be safe, stay healthy, and have a Very Happy Thanksgiving!

For some school districts such an Orange County, the holiday break means a chance for deep cleaning in all the classrooms.

In a statement to News 6, a spokesperson with Orange County Public Schools said:

“During the Thanksgiving Break all OCPS campuses will be cleaned and disinfected. As we approach the holiday season we want to remind our students, families and staff to continue following the health and safety recommendations set by the CDC and our local health department. We wish for our families to creatively celebrate while helping our students avoid large gatherings where social distancing and face masks are not in use. Thank you for helping us keep our programs functioning and our community healthy.”

Debbie Moffitt serves as the Assistant Superintendent at Sumter District Schools.

“We will have our maintenance and custodians doing their cleaning on Monday and Tuesday and just getting ready for them on the next Monday,” she said. “It’s a short break.”

“We have our maintenance guys working through Monday and Tuesday next week,” Greg Akin, Volusia County Schools chief operating officer said. “We also have our contractors (on) all of our campuses, going through all of the classrooms and going through the hard surfaces and deep cleaning each one of the classrooms and offices districtwide.”

Akin told News 6 the district worries what the latest numbers could mean for the future.

“One of the major concerns, students during the holiday season try to get together and enjoy time with our families,” he said. “We have to be cautious this year because we are still in the pandemic and we are seeing an increase in cases not just in Florida but nationwide.”

Kevin Christian with Marion County Public Schools told News 6 the district isn’t planning any additional cleaning in addition to its stringent daily regiment unless there’s a specific classroom or area that has recent case or direct contacts.

“We have almost 75% of our students in brick-and-mortar, face-to-face classes,” Christian explained. “I think we’ve kind of got it down. Our students know what to do. Our staff members know what to do. The students are not the ones who forget their masks that much or forget to wash their hands. It’s a learned behavior.”


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