SEMINOLE 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 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 Seminole County:
When does school start?
The first day of school in Seminole 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 are optional.
“The wearing of masks for the 2021-22 school year is voluntary for students and staff,” the school district’s official reopening plan reads, in part. “Adults that have not been vaccinated are encouraged to wear a mask.”
However, officials have said plans could change if necessary.
“The board and district plan to continually monitor the situation each month and will maintain flexibility in case they need to pivot/change course becomes necessary,” the spokesperson told News 6 in a statement regarding the district’s policy on masks.
Officials also said limited social distancing will take place when and where possible but is not required.
The district’s full reopening plan can be found here.
Will any other coronavirus precautions/restrictions be in place?
District officials said they will still continue a rigorous cleaning schedule at schools and on buses. They also plan to limit some capacities at various school events and athletics.
Details on other COVID-19 precautions can be found here.
Are there any virtual/hybrid learning options available this semester?
According to district officials, Seminole County is only offering two learning options for the upcoming school year: Traditional in-person face-to-face and Seminole County Virtual School. However, the deadline to enroll in Seminole County Virtual School has passed, officials said.
What school supplies do I need to buy for my student?
A universal elementary school supply list for Seminole County students can be found here.
Supplies needed for middle and high school students will vary. For that reason, a generic supply list is not offered online.
“When students get to middle and high school, they have a larger schedule and course options with electives they choose, so needed supplies will vary by teacher/class and school,” the district spokesperson said. “Typically, students in middle and high will learn their class supply needs either during ‘Meet the Teacher’ at their school or during the first week of school when the school year begins.”
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?
Yes. According to county officials, the district is looking to hire bus drivers and school crossing guards, ideally prior to the first day of the school year. However, the district does hire bus drivers year round.
Information on how to apply for a job with Seminole County Public Schools can be found 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.
As previously mentioned, Seminole County Public Schools has published a complete school reopening guide, which includes information about everything from schedules and free and reduced meals to campus events and transportation. The guide can be found here.
To find the Seminole County School District’s school year calendar, click here.
If your question wasn’t answered in this story or the county’s guide, click here to visit Seminole County Public Schools’ website.