Polk County Public Schools will soon begin removing desk shields at elementary schools throughout the district.
These clear plastic shields have been affixed to elementary students’ desks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
We are scaling back this mitigation strategy after carefully monitoring the number of COVID cases in our community. Thankfully, we are experiencing a decline in the spread of this illness. At this time, the overall positivity rate has decreased below 3 percent.
In addition, children aged five to 11 are now eligible for vaccination.
Starting on Monday (Nov. 15), we will begin removing the shields from individual elementary school desks.
Parents and guardians can choose to opt in for their child to continue using the plastic shield. They can email their child’s teacher or principal, and indicate that they want to keep the shield in place.
Again, desk shields will be removed next week unless the parent or guardian specifically requests that the partition remain in place.
The desk shields will be stored, and made available should health conditions change in our community.
Please note that staff members — such as classroom teachers, reading/math interventionists, speech therapists, and others — may still utilize plexiglass shields when working one-on-one with a student or with small student groups.
This information will also be shared via districtwide automated phone call and email.
PCPS initially ordered the desk shields on Aug. 20 to help prevent the spread of COVID, as cases surged while students and staff were returning to school. Unfortunately, the vendor sent the wrong items, and the shields had to be returned. Due to supply issues, PCPS did not receive the correct desk shields until late September.
The decision to install desk shields was out of an abundance of caution for students and staff who had not been vaccinated, and for those who had been vaccinated but are immune-compromised due to underlying health conditions.