Here’s what Polk County students, parents need to know ahead of the upcoming school year

Back-to-school guide answers frequently asked questions

Polk County
Polk County (Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

POLK 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.

To help clear up any confusion ahead of the first day of school, News 6 contacted 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 Polk County:

When does school start?

The first day of school in Polk 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.

“Face coverings will be optional for students and staff members for the 2021-22 school year, but we encourage anyone who is not vaccinated to wear face coverings,” the spokesperson added.

To read the full policy, click here.

Will any other coronavirus precautions/restrictions be in place?

The school district is still making its final plans for the 2021-2022 school year, according to a district spokesperson.

“We continue to work closely with the Florida Department of Health in Polk County to review and update our safety measures; enhanced cleaning, social distancing and contact tracing will remain important tools,” the spokesperson said.

They added that the district will release additional back-to-school information in the coming weeks on its website.

Are there any virtual/hybrid learning options available this semester?

According to district officials, Polk County is only offering two learning options for the upcoming school year: Traditional in-person face-to-face and Polk Virtual School. Polk Virtual School is accepting student enrollments through July 23. 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 currently has 220 teacher vacancies. It will be hosting a virtual job fair on July 28.

For information on how to register for the job fair, 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

You can also join us for a back-to-school town hall from 7-8 p.m. on Aug. 3. Feel free to submit your questions for our panel of experts ahead of time using this form.

To find the Polk County Public Schools academic year calendar, click here.

If your question wasn’t answered in this story, click here to visit Polk County Public Schools’ website.

About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.