Updated Covid-19 Information
District pivots based on case counts and lack of contact tracing
With a small percentage of COVID-19 cases undergoing contract tracing investigation from the Department of Health, Duval County Public Schools will implement two strategies to better inform families of COVID-19 in elementary school communities and prevent further spread.
First -- Classroom communication
Beginning on or before Aug. 25, if a case impacts an elementary school, families of students in the class of the infected individual will receive a letter informing them of the case. The letter will not be a quarantine or “stay-at-home” order. It will simply inform families of the increased possibility that their student may have been in close contact to a presumed positive case of COVID-19.
Second – Transition to online if a class has multiple cases
Also beginning on or before Aug. 25, the district will transition an elementary class to online learning if two or more cases impact that class within a seven-day period. The duration of online instruction will depend on the timing of the positive case but is expected to last between two and seven days in most cases.
These strategies will be in place for through mid-September. At that time, the district will re-evaluate the capability of the Department of Health to support contact tracing and adapt if necessary.
Why this pivot?
These steps are necessary because the Department of Health has not been able to keep pace with the contact tracing case load since school began. Under state law, The Florida Department of Health has the responsibility to confirm the positive case, conduct the contact tracing and case investigation, and notify families who are impacted.
The Department has informed the district that it has assigned additional personnel to school cases, but the rapid spreading nature of the COVID-19 Delta variant currently exceeds the department’s capability to respond to all school cases within a meaningful timeframe.
The district is establishing laptop and hotspot distribution centers throughout the county to support families if classes are moved to online instruction. Details and locations of these centers will be announced soon.
The district has reported 492 presumed positive cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the school year. These cases have resulted in only 189 student and adult quarantines or “stay-at-home orders” for being close contacts to the infected person.
The district is taking these steps in elementary schools only because elementary school students are not eligible for vaccination. Parents are encouraged to provide consent for their children age 12 and older to get the vaccination.
What to do if a case is reported in your classroom or school
Due to the high level of community transmission of COVID-19 in our city, we encourage families to take the following five actions to slow the spread of the virus when a case is reported in your school:
- Be extra attentive to symptoms of COVID-19 in your child. These symptoms may include fever, cough, sore throat, difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, new loss of taste or smell, fatigue, and headache. If you do see any signs of these symptoms, we recommend that your child stay home from school and seek testing and medical attention immediately.
- Wear a face covering when in the presence of others at school or elsewhere.
- Avoid close contact with others when possible, especially with friends and family at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
- Remind your child to wash their hands and use available hand sanitizer frequently.
- If you and your child (age 12 and over) have not been vaccinated, please consider doing so as soon as possible. See www.duvalschools.org/vax for COVID-19 vaccine event information.
We hope that you and your children have had a wonderful holiday break and are rested and ready for school to begin on Tuesday, Jan. 4.
Because we are again re-opening our classrooms during another COVID-19 surge, we want to assure you that all schools have been cleaned and sanitized over the holiday break. Additionally, all schools continue to be treated with an antimicrobial surface protectant every 60 days, and we will have plenty of hand sanitizer, soap, and disinfectant wipes available.
We also continue to work with the Florida Department of Health—Duval, local health experts, and other health agencies to identify effective and lawful mitigating measures. In response to this surge, the following measures will be implemented during January:
- Visitors will be required to wear face masks at schools and district offices.
- Employees will be required to wear face masks when working with students or when unable to social distance.
- Field trips are temporarily postponed.
- Capacity at athletic and performing arts events will be reduced to 75%. All individuals should practice social distancing when possible.
- Employee meetings will be conducted via virtual platforms when possible.
- Common gathering areas should be closed, or capacity reduced.
- Out of district travel is temporarily suspended.
- District office hours will be limited for visitors. Visitors should be encouraged to call offices in advance and report to designated areas only.
The district will evaluate conditions at the end of January to determine if any of these measures need to be extended, but as we have learned through previous pandemic surges, we do our best at mitigating the spread of COVID-19 when we all do our part. Please assist by taking these five precautions:
- If your child has COVID-19 symptoms, please stay home from school. These symptoms may include fever, cough, sore throat, difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, new loss of taste or smell, fatigue, and headache. If your child is exhibiting any of these symptoms, seek medical guidance and stay home from school.
- Strongly consider having your student wear a face mask. Under Florida law, school districts can no longer require the use of face masks. However, we strongly recommend face masks for all students and staff, especially in areas where social distancing is not possible.
- Get vaccinated. COVID-19 vaccines are now widely available throughout the community for children five years old and older. Duval County Public Schools is working with the Florida Department of Health—Duval to host vaccination clinics at some school sites on Saturday, Jan. 8 and Jan. 29 from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Specific locations will be announced soon at www.duvalschools.org.
- Continue to report positive tests to your schools. If your child tests positive for COVID-19, please continue to report that information to your schools. We will then report that positive test to the Florida Department of Health- Duval, which will conduct a case investigation to determine close contacts. The department will notify families of any student determined to be a close contact to a person diagnosed with COVID-19 and provide further guidance.
- Be ready in case your child begins to exhibit COVID-19 symptoms in school. Students who develop symptoms of COVID-19 during the school day will be sent to a supervised isolation room until an approved adult can pick that student up. A parent or guardian of that student will receive a free, Ellume COVID-19 test kit (while supplies last and waiver signature required) to be completed at home.
Please stay safe and healthy as you enjoy the rest of the holiday break, and we look forward to seeing students back in class on Jan. 4, 2022!