MILTON, Fla. (WKRG) — School districts in Northwest Florida are making changes to their COVID-19 protocols following an emergency order from the state on Wednesday.
The emergency order, announced by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and new state surgeon general Dr. Joseph A. Lapado, says if students are exposed to someone with COVID-19, and they remain asymptomatic, they can continue to go to school and school activities. Additionally, the order does not require those who come into contact with a COVID-positive individual to be tested for the virus themselves.
Santa Rosa County Superintendent Karen Barber says she welcomes the new rule because of what it does for struggling students.
“This needs to be a decision made by the parents,” Barber told WKRG News 5. “I can tell you there is certainly a detrimental effect to students quarantining multiple times and missing in-person instruction.”
Santa Rosa County parent Daniel Bragg said his children have been exposed to COVID-19 at school, and he chose to quarantine them.
“If the school tells me my kid has been exposed to COVID, I normally just keep them home,” Bragg said. “They’ve gone stir crazy just being locked up in a house. They need their freedom. Sending kids to school is the best thing to do — brick and mortar — than just sitting them behind an electronic tablet.”
Still, students who test positive for COVID-19 or have symptoms should stay at home, Barber said.
The Escambia and Okaloosa County School Districts announced Thursday they had adopted the new state COVID-19 student guidelines and were in compliance.
Barber said she has received at least three emails from concerned parents as of Thursday afternoon. Some believe the new state COVID-19 protocols could lead to the virus spreading.
Barber, as well as education leaders from Escambia and Okaloosa Counties, say the health and safety of students remains a top priority.