DCPS introduces January measures to stop spread of COVID-19 as students return to school

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Duval County Public Schools sent a letter to families on Sunday detailing the new measures put in place in January to stop the spread of COVID-19 as students return to school.

Among those measures, DCPS has stated that visitors and employees must wear a mask at school, field trips will be postponed and capacity will be reduced for sporting events and in common gathering areas.

Students are encouraged to wear masks and stay home if they exhibit COVID-19 symptoms. It is also recommended they get the vaccine.

These measures will be effective throughout January. DCPS will reevaluate at the end of January to determine if they will be extended.

DCPS is working with the Florida Department of Health, local health experts and other health agencies to determine effective and lawful measures that stop the spread.

Read the full letter below:

Dear families,

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!