COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. — The 2020-2021 school year is less than three weeks away, and Collier County Public Schools wants to let parents know how they plan to welcome students and staff back safely.
While face masks will be required throughout schools, other safety protocols have also been put in place.
“We don’t want to just open for a couple of weeks and then have to shut it down,” said Chad Oliver, Executive Director of Communications for CCPS.
Starting with school bus safety procedures: all students will be required to wear a face mask and use hand sanitizer upon boarding and will load from the back of the bus to the front.
Windows and roof hatches will be slightly open to increase airflow.
Buses will be cleaned and disinfected at least once per day at the end of the day. Also, bus drivers will clean as necessary throughout the day.
“Despite 58% [of students] coming back on campus, we’re still running the same number of buses, the same fleet of buses,” said Oliver.
Once at school, students will be greeted with signs encouraging safety measures and social distancing.
Be sure to send your child with a water bottle as water fountains will be turned off, but filling stations will remain open.
Hand sanitizers will be available at all major transition areas and classrooms.
Masks are required throughout the school, while safety glasses are highly recommended.
Students will receive a free mask and pair of glasses at the start of the school year.
“Because we’re wearing the mask indoor, we’re going to space out the desk to the greatest extent possible,” said Oliver.
Classrooms will be cleaned and disinfected at the end of each school day. Staff also will have the opportunity to clean their spaces as needed during the day.
New this year, students will be assigned their own laptops or other devices as part of the district’s Classroom Connect initiative.
“The urgency of COVID-19 expedited the process to make sure we’re giving all of our students a laptop or a device so they can seamlessly transition if they need to from home to school,” said Oliver. “It was a hefty investment, 14 million dollars for the laptops initiative, but it’s worth it.”
Students on campus will have individual supplies available for use with disinfection between use for any shared supplies.
During lunchtime, elementary students will eat lunch in the cafeteria, spaced out, while middle and high school students will eat lunch outdoors.
“Classes won’t mix when they go to recess, which will help lower the transmission,” said Oliver.
Students will be required to wear face masks during recess when social distancing is not possible.
Collier County Public Schools says it will be following the CDC’s recommendations for cleaning playgrounds.
While the CDC does not recommend disinfecting playground equipment, they do recommend routine cleaning of high-contact surfaces such as grab bars and handrails.
“We want to continue to encourage the kids that learning is still fun, they’re still among their friends,” said Charlene Paula, a reading coach at Mike Davis Elementary.