From Superintendent Frederick Heid:
Dear parents and guardians,
I trust that you and your loved ones had a wonderful winter break, and I want to wish you the best as we start a new year.
I am sorry to welcome you back with a mixed message. While we prepare to welcome back our students and staff, I know that many of you may have questions regarding the new Omicron variant of COVID-19.
Like the rest of the nation, Polk County has seen a significant increase in the number of positive COVID cases. The Florida Department of Health in Polk County shared that in the week of Dec. 26 through Jan. 1 the county saw 9,218 new cases, with school-age children representing 14% of these cases. As a precaution, we are reminding you of our COVID procedures.
Quarantine and Isolation Guidance: Polk County Public Schools will continue to operate under the existing state orders concerning isolation and quarantine:
1. Students and staff who have COVID-like symptoms or have received a positive test for COVID should STAY HOME. Symptoms include, but are not limited to: runny nose, congestion, sore throat, headache, body aches, fever, diarrhea, and other cold and flu-like symptoms.
2. Students and staff with who are positive for COVID-19 or are experiencing COVID-like symptoms can return to school when one of the following criteria are met:
a. Ten days have passed since the day symptoms started, the person is fever-free for 24 hours and all other symptoms are improving -OR-
b. A person has a doctor’s note allowing them to return to school/work before 10 days have passed -OR-
c. A person has a negative COVID test and is asymptomatic.
3. Parents of students who are in close contact to a positive case can either allow their student to continue attending school and monitor for symptoms, or quarantine their child at home for up to seven days. Regardless of vaccination status, the CDC recommends that individuals who are in close contact with a positive case wear a mask around others for 10 days after exposure.
Note: Hazel Healthcare is a new telehealth program available to PCPS students. A private consultation with a physician can be done from your home. Participating from home does not mean that a parent has provided consent for school-based use/access. For more information, visit polkschoolsfl.com/hazelhealth.
PCPS continues to follow recommendations to help mitigate the spread of COVID. In doing so, the district uses a layered approach including:
1. Frequent cleaning of high-touch surfaces (cafeteria tables, chairs, desks, handrails, offices and restrooms)
2. Making hand sanitizer solution available in classrooms and throughout our buildings
3. Reinforcing proper hygiene, including hand washing and covering mouths when coughing/sneezing.
4. Using HEPA filtration in classrooms and other spaces
5. Encouraging social distancing in classrooms, hallways and other common areas
1. Masks are strongly encouraged but remain optional for students and staff at this time.
2. In elementary grades, parents may request that their child use a plexiglass trifold screen. This is an opt-in decision and requires that the parent notify their school principal and child’s teacher of their request.
Note: Staff members retain the right to use utilize plexiglass shields when working one-on-one with a student or with small student groups.
Field trips play an essential role in supporting our students’ academic, social, and emotional development. The district will work to support these activities while also taking into consideration the health, safety and welfare of our staff and students.
1. The district will continue to review and authorize field trips on a case-by-case basis.
2. To the greatest extent possible, PCPS may reschedule field trips due to COVID positivity rates or exposure concerns. Again, the goal is to reschedule an event rather than cancelling it.
Athletics, Performing Arts, and Extracurricular Events:
1. Outdoor events: Audience capacity at outdoor events will remain at 100%.
2. Indoor events: Audience capacity at indoor events will remain at 75%.