Santa Rosa schools navigate COVID-19 guideline changes as cases surge

Northwest Florida

SANTA ROSA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — Schools in Santa Rosa County opened their hallways back up Tuesday. 

However, with COVID-19 numbers on the rise they had to create some new guidelines for the upcoming school year. 

WKRG spoke with Santa Rosa County Superintendent Dr. Karen Barber on what changes parents and students should expect. 

Dr. Barber said, “We definitely have to be flexible and adapt. The Santa Rosa County School District Board and myself made a decision regarding highly recommended mask or face coverings at school.”

Barber told WKRG they had already made the decision months ago to recommend mask and not require them, but their biggest mission is to make sure students get back on a regular school schedule. 

“There were many of them quarantined 4, 5, 6 times,” Barber said. “That’s missed in person instruction, and we knew it has taken a toll on our students. So this year we have been optimistic we wouldn’t be faced with quarantining again.”

Barber said the new guidelines state if a student with symptoms does test negative after 4 days they will be able to come back to school on the 5th day, meaning the quarantine time for healthy students is not as long as it has been in the past.

However, the district is prepared for those who do test positive. 

“What we need to do in schools is to make sure we issue that laptop when they need to stay at home, and we provide them with that work and provide daily contact from the schools,” said Barber.

Governor Ron DeSantis recently announced the state would withhold pay from districts and superintendents who would continue to force a mask mandate on their students which has raised concerns.

Barber said safety is their top priority and will accommodate any issues that arise.

“Send your student with a face covering,” Barber said. “That is your choice and we will concentrate at school on having hand sanitation stations available, social distancing when it’s feasible, using our air purification systems, and we are also installing additional systems that will hook to our HVAC to continue to purify the air that students and employees breathe while they are inside of the school.”

If you do have any more questions about the new guidelines, click here.

Barber said if you do have any comments or concerns you can email the district and they will do what they can as rules and regulations continue to change.

Okaloosa Counties also brought students back into classrooms today.

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