Given the increase in COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant, Polk County Public Schools would like to share updated guidance with all students and families.

Any student who is experiencing any COVID-like symptoms should STAY HOME. Students who report to school with symptoms will be sent home and families should seek medical advice.

Typical symptoms include:

  • Runny nose
  • Congestion
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Fever or chills
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Students who test positive for COVID-19 should also be closely monitored for emergency symptoms. If students experience any emergency symptoms, please seek emergency medical care immediately.

Emergency symptoms include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • New confusion/brain fog
  • Pale, gray or blue skin/lips/nails, depending on skin tone
  • Persistent pain/pressure in chest
  • Inability to wake/stay awake

Any student who has tested positive for COVID-19 through any method (home test, rapid test, PCR test) should notify their school immediately and request information on schoolwork during their isolation period. Families are asked to notify any personal close contacts of your child’s positive test result. A close contact is anyone who has been within 6 feet of you for 15 minutes or more during the 2 days prior to your symptoms starting or the 2 days prior to your positive test result. The Omicron variant is pervasive throughout Polk County and is highly contagious. Exposure in any large group setting is very likely. Due to the volume of positive cases, contact tracing for individual cases will not be possible at this time. Based on state guidance and collaboration with the Florida Department of Health in Polk County, we will be moving from monitoring individual cases to monitoring for clusters of cases in the same class or school. If a cluster is identified in your child’s school, you will receive a SchoolMessenger notification (automated telephone call and email).

Students who have had close contact with a positive person no longer need to quarantine. Students who are close contacts may continue to attend school as long as they are symptom-free. Only students who are positive or experiencing symptoms must stay home. Students who are positive should also not participate in extra-curricular or afterschool activities. They should not attend community events or social gatherings outside of their home during their isolation period. Additional information regarding how to isolate if your child is sick can be found here:https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/quarantine-isolation.html

Testing Options

Students who are experiencing any COVID-like symptoms are strongly encouraged to seek testing.  Testing is available at no cost.  Students and families may seek testing from their primary care provider or from one of the sites below.  Families are strongly encouraged to consult with their pediatrician regarding care and follow up.  Hospital emergency rooms should be avoided unless there is a true medical emergency.

Florida Department of Health

Testing is available at Lake Ariana Clubhouse in Auburndale
Address: 321 Ramsgate Road
Phone: (863) 519-7911
Hours: 8:00 am – 4:00 pm (Mon. – Thurs.); 8:00 am – 3:30 pm (Fri.)
Preregistration is recommended to reduce wait times. Drive-up testing with no appointment is available Monday through Friday.

Nomi Health

3 testing sites available at Bartow Regional Medical Center, Gil Jones Center in Winter Haven and RP Funding Center in Lakeland. All 3 sites are open 7 days a week 8:00 am – 6:00 pm. Additional information can be found at http://testing.nomihealth.com/signup/fl

Returning to School

Emergency rule 64D-3.049 remains in effect. The most recent update to this rule on Protocols for Controlling COVID-19 in Schools can be found here: https://www.flrules.org/gateway/ruleNo.asp?id=64D-3.049

Students who are positive or symptomatic can return when they meet 1 of the following:

Option 1

10 days have passed
Symptoms improving
No fever for 24 hours

Option 2

You have a doctor’s note saying your child can return to school before 10 days have passed

Option 3

Your child has tested negative for COVID-19 and has no symptoms (home tests are not accepted)

Calculating Return to School Date

To calculate your child’s return to school date, you will need the date your child’s symptoms started. If your student tested positive and has no symptoms, then you should use the date your child was tested.

The day your child’s symptoms start, or the date of your child tested positive, is Day 0. Then count 10 calendar days from Day 0. Your child may return to school on Day 11. If your child is still sick and cannot return to school, you will need to seek medical advice regarding a revised return date. A doctor’s note may be required.

Support is available through HAZEL Health. HAZEL Health is a new telehealth service available to all students at zero cost. A private consultation with a doctor can be done from your home. Participating in HAZEL Health from home does not mean that you are giving consent for your child to be seen by HAZEL Health at school. For more information, visit https://polkschoolsfl.com/hazelhealth/.

To repeat:

  • Symptom-onset date + 11 days = date of return OR
  • Positive test date (if no symptoms) + 11 days = date of return

Protecting Your Family at Home

Students who are positive or experiencing symptoms need to separate from other people and pets as much as possible. This includes staying in a separate bedroom and using a separate bathroom when possible. Individuals who are positive or symptomatic should eat by themselves. If your child must be close to other people or pets, a mask is strongly recommended.

All families are encouraged to practice good COVID-19 mitigation strategies. These include vaccination, booster shots when recommended, masks in large group settings, social distancing and frequent handwashing. All individuals age 5 and older may be eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccination at this time. Any person who believes they have been exposed to a positive person or who develops any COVID-like symptoms is encouraged to seek testing. Additional information on COVID-19 vaccination for children and teens can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/children-teens.html

Families with a child who is positive should tell their personal close contacts that they may have been exposed to COVID-19. An infected person can spread COVID-19 starting 48 hours or 2 days before they have any symptoms or before they test positive. Notifying personal close contacts allows them to take steps to protect their families from illness as well. Additional information on what parents can do if their child is showing symptoms of COVID-19 can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html