Santa Rosa, Okaloosa counties release back-to-school COVID-19 safety plans

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PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — School districts are preparing for students to return to the classroom and announcing plans to keep students and staff safe from COVID-19.

Despite CDC guidance that says all schools should embrace universal masking, Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties are making it optional in schools and on buses.

“We’ve taken a three-pronged approach that focuses on your students’ safety, academic growth, and mental health,” Okaloosa County Superintendent Marcus Chambers said.

Chambers put out a video message Wednesday laying out plans for schools.

“At this time, we are allowing students with no COVID symptoms to remain in school in order to balance the students’ health with their academic growth and mental and social-emotional wellbeing,” Chambers said.

In Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties, online school is still an option that parents can sign up for. Both districts have plans to contact trace students, and there are rules to follow if a student is exposed to someone who is positive. They will also sanitize buildings daily.

Chambers said decisions in Okaloosa County were made based on a small percentage of students who got COVID-19 last year in schools.

“Of the 10,396 quarantine events, only 1.3 percent of the students developed COVID as a result of transmission within the schools,” he said.

Both districts will return to the classrooms on Aug. 10.

Click here to see detailed plans for Okaloosa County schools and click here to see plans for Santa Rosa County schools.

Escambia County has not yet released its plans.

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