Here’s how Central Florida districts plan to handle COVID-19 this school year

Each county has different COVID-19 protocols in place ahead of 2022-23 school year

ORLANDO, Fla. – As Central Florida students and teachers gear up to go back to school, everyone is wondering how each district plans to handle the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

With some districts modifying their COVID-19 protocols, it’s important to know what to expect at the start of the 2022-23 school year.

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This comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to relax recommendations for COVID-19 in schools, according to CBS News.

News 6 reached out to all nine Central Florida school districts to ask about their back-to-school COVID-19 protocols. Find the responses we received below:

Flagler County

Jason Wheeler, a spokesman with Flagler County Public Schools, said the district will be using guidance from the Florida Department of Health and Department of Education, which is the same used as last year.

There is no COVID monitoring officer for the district, Wheeler said.

“We never tracked COVID cases district-wide. That was done by our local Health Department. We simply provided the numbers on our website. However, early last year our local DOH office discontinued tracking the numbers and we no longer provided the page on our website,” Wheeler said in an email.

Lake County

Sherri Owens, a spokeswoman with Lake County Public Schools, said the district will continue to follow the most current CDC guidelines.

“We do not have a COVID monitoring officer for the 2022-23 school year,” Owens said in a statement. “The Florida Department of Health in Lake County will conduct all contact tracing. I do not know whether the DOH plans to publicly post that data on a website.”

Orange County

The district is approaching COVID-19 as it does all infectious diseases by encouraging people to get vaccinated against it and proper hygiene, students and staff to stay home when sick.

Renée Burke, a spokeswoman for Orange County Public Schools, also said students or staff in the district running a fever can return to school after being fever-free for 24 hours without the assistance of medication.

Burke said personal protective equipment, or PPE, is also offered for those interested, but wearing masks on-campus is optional.

Osceola County

Dana Schafer, public information officer for Osceola County Public Schools, said the district will be handling COVID-19 similar to a flu strain.

“Students who know that they have been exposed should monitor for symptoms. If students test positive, they will need to stay home for five days from the onset of symptoms,” Schafer said.

Deputy Superintendent Thomas Phelps will no longer be reporting COVID-19 cases throughout the school year and schools will not be providing the district with weekly numbers for tracking, but “principals have been asked to notify (Phelps) if they see the number of students out with COVID increasing.”

Seminole County

Throughout the district, students who test positive for COVID-19 or exhibit symptoms consistent with COVID-19 are required to isolate until:

  • The student receives a negative COVID-19 test and is asymptomatic OR
  • Five days have passed since the onset of symptoms or the positive test result, the student has no fever for 24 hours and symptoms are improving OR
  • The student receives written permission to return to school from a medical doctor or nurse practitioner

Students exposed to COVID-19, which the district defines as being within 6 feet of a COVID positive person for 15 minutes or more within a day, must quarantine unless the student remains asymptomatic and has not received a positive COVID-19 test.

According to Michael Lawrence, a spokesperson for Seminole County Public Schools, the district will continue to practice routine cleaning of classrooms and high-traffic areas, encourage frequent hand-washing and urge students to stay home when sick.

Throughout the district, “COVID designees” report any relevant COVID-19 information to the Student Support Services Department and the Florida Health Department as needed.

News 6 is still waiting to hear back from Brevard, Marion, Sumter and Volusia counties.

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