MARION COUNTY, Fla. – For some students and teachers, the first day of the 2021-2022 school year will also mark their first day back in a classroom since the coronavirus pandemic began.
A new school year always brings changes. Add a pandemic into the mix and parents and students are bound to have some questions about what to expect.
[RELATED: What questions do you have ahead of the upcoming semester? | Here’s who will answer your questions during News 6′s Back to School town hall]
To help clear up any confusion ahead of the first day of school, News 6 reached out to each Central Florida school district with some frequently asked questions to help assemble a back-to-school guide for students and parents.
Here’s everything you need to know about heading back to school in Marion County:
When does school start?
The first day of school in Marion County is Tuesday, Aug. 10.
Does my child need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to go to school?
COVID-19 vaccines are not mandatory for students to return to the classroom. In fact, many students are not eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone 12 years and older get a COVID-19 vaccination to help protect against the virus. Right now, children 12 years and older are able to get the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine.
To get the vaccine in Florida, children 12-17 years of age must be accompanied by a guardian and complete the COVID-19 vaccine consent form. To download a copy of the form, click here. Vaccination locations can be found here.
Wondering if the vaccine is safe for kids? Here’s what a Central Florida pediatrician has to say about COVID-19 vaccinations for minors.
Will masks and/or social distancing be required in the classroom?
According to a spokesperson for the school district, the policy going into the 2021-2022 school year is that masks will be optional; however, as of the latest guidance, the CDC is recommending all students and teachers wear masks in the classroom, regardless of vaccination status.
To find a media release about the district’s decision, click here.
Will any other coronavirus precautions/restrictions be in place?
According to the district, schools will still be disinfected daily, including high-touch and flat surfaces.
“As well, custodians use a special spray that provides 90 days of disinfecting ability for each application. Areas like cafeterias and school bus interiors will continue to be treated with this solution,” a spokesperson said.
The district added that it has installed water bottle filling stations throughout the district and stresses regular hand washing and personal hygiene practices.
Are there any virtual/hybrid learning options available this semester?
According to district officials, Marion County is only offering two learning options for the upcoming school year: Traditional in-person face-to-face and Marion Virtual School. For more information, click here.
What school supplies do I need to buy for my student?
The district does not supply a universal school supply list. Each individual school offers a supply list on its website.
To find links to your child’s school’s website, click here.
My child will ride the bus. Where should they catch it?
Your student’s bus stop will, of course, depend on where they live. Closer to the official start of the school year, the county will post information on where your child can catch their bus at this link.
Is the school district hiring?
The district said it is in need of certified bus drivers, teachers for students with special needs, and custodians.
To find job openings, click here.
Other helpful information
As we’ve seen since the start of the pandemic, plans can change depending on a number of factors. You can always find the latest back-to-school information at ClickOrlando.com/backtoschool.
News 6 hosted a back-to-school town hall to answer viewer questions ahead of the upcoming school year. You can rewatch it in the video player below.
To find the Marion Public Schools academic year calendar, click here.
If your question wasn’t answered in this story, click here to visit Marion Public Schools’ website.