Omicron Spreading. Teachers, Staffers Sick. School District Says “Distance Learning” Is Not An Option.
BY: STAFF REPORT | BocaNewsNow.com
BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) (Copyright © 2022 MetroDesk Media, LLC) — The Palm Beach County School District tonight is transmitting this message to parents and staff members as school resumes Wednesday after the winter break. The short version: parents should expect staffing shortages, potential class changes, and an inability to move to “distance learning” due to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
From The School District: “On January 4, District offices reopened following Winter Break. On January 5, we will welcome back our students for in-person instruction amid an ongoing dedicated commitment to COVID-19 transmission mitigation practices.
The recent surge in COVID-19 cases brought on by the highly-contagious Omicron variant has raised the community transmission rate in Palm Beach County to approximately 30%. As a result, our District, like all services industries, is experiencing staffing shortages. Our school principals, teachers, and support staff have proved to be resilient and adept at shifting resources to meet the needs of our students throughout this pandemic. That said, potential heightened staffing shortages associated with the current Omicron surge may impact on the delivery of education and support services including student transportation in the near term. The School District is working diligently to manage these challenges and appreciates your cooperation and understanding as we work hard to minimize any disruptions.
The District has received some inquiries regarding a return to remote online instruction as seen in other parts of the country. Online instruction is no longer an option in Florida. While it was temporarily permitted, the Governor’s Executive Order which allowed Distance Learning during the prior 2020-2021 school year has expired and no such provision has been restored to date.
Legally, the District is also prohibited from mandating facial coverings for students, however, masks will continue to be highly encouraged as this practice provides an additional layer of protection against COVID-19.
The District has reinstated a facial covering requirement for all employees, vendors, and visitors while they are indoors. This decision was not made lightly, but based on what health officials consider a best practice for the safety of our staff. The Superintendent will re-evaluate the need for facial coverings for employees in two weeks.
The School District will continue to remain vigilant with all of the other COVID-19 transmission mitigation strategies that we have had in place throughout the pandemic, including the use of MERV-13 air filters, portable HEPA air purification units in classrooms and clinics, enhanced cleaning, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer, and other measures.
Additionally, school nurses will continue to test symptomatic students who have a consent form on file.
For your convenience, the District is continually updating the list of testing and vaccination sites located throughout the County. That information is found here.
Today, the CDC also updated its recommendation for when specific groups are eligible to receive a booster shot, shortening the interval from six months to five months for those who received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine.
This means that people can now receive an mRNA booster shot five months after completing their Pfizer primary series. The booster interval recommendation for people who received the J&J vaccine (two months) or the Moderna vaccine (six months), has not changed. Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently took action to authorize boosters for 12-15 year olds
Parents and guardians, we implore you to keep students home if they are not feeling well and experiencing any potential COVID-19 symptoms. A student who tests positive must stay home for 10 days and be symptom free, or have a negative COVID-19 test, or have a return to school note from a licensed healthcare professional.
Thank you for your support of the School District of Palm Beach County and for doing your part to keep our schools, students, and staff healthy. We appreciate your patience during this challenging time.”
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