We are looking forward to welcoming your children back tomorrow (Aug. 10) into our classrooms for the start of the 2021-22 school year!
Obviously, the pandemic remains a significant cause of concern, particularly given the surge of cases in our community and statewide. Let me assure you that we are taking every precaution available to make our schools as safe as possible.
You entrust us with the most precious treasure imaginable: your children. We take this responsibility seriously, and we are undertaking numerous safety measures to better protect our campuses from COVID-19. You can find more details about our safety protocols by visiting polkschoolsfl.com/backtoschool.
We continue to work closely with state and local health officials, and adjust our policies as needed.
To be clear, face coverings remain optional at this time for Polk County Public Schools.
However, we strongly encourage the use of face coverings, which are recommended by the CDC and the Florida Department of Health. We also recognize that many students remain ineligible for vaccination – particularly Pre-K – 5th grade students who not old enough to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
We want to partner with families who choose to have their students wear face coverings.
The district is requesting that families of students in grades Pre-K-5 notify their child’s teacher of their desire for their student to wear an approved face covering where applicable. For students in grades 6-12, we will leave face coverings to the family, as this is a personal choice and is best addressed by the parent with their child.
For those in grades Pre-K-5, a child’s parent or legal guardian may send a note with their child or email their child’s teacher as soon as possible. In the absence of a note, all employees will assume that the family has decided not to wear a face covering.
This will help school staff know which students should be wearing face coverings. In addition, the school can assist by notifying parents if their student is not wearing face coverings properly, so that a family discussion can occur.
The proper wearing of face coverings will not be a disciplinary matter, as they are optional.
Please keep in mind that we remain committed to supporting a layered mitigation approach to help promote the health, safety, and welfare of our staff and students. These strategies include:
• Enhanced air filtration and increased frequency of filter replacement for all classrooms and buildings
• Air purification systems, including UV and HEPA filtration for each classroom, are being installed in all classrooms and offices.
• Enhanced cleaning by classroom staff and custodians
• We provide ALL classrooms with additional cleaning materials to be used throughout the day, as children transition between activities/classes.
• Restrictions on locker rooms to support social distancing
• Limitations on field trips to support social distancing
• Face coverings will continue to be made available to students each day on our school buses and in classrooms.
• Reinforcing hand washing and hygiene
On Friday (Aug. 6, 2021), the Florida Department of Health modified the quarantine procedures for students. Please know that our Back-to-School Guide is being updated and will reflect these changes. The Back-to-School Guide can be found online at polkschoolsfl.com/backtoschool.
Thank you so much for your support; we are excited to begin another year of learning!
– Superintendent Frederick Heid