Alachua County Public Schools (ACPS) is immediately relaxing its pandemic protocols and will make masks optional in the 2021-22 school year, according to guidance the district sent to parents late Friday.
The message said the changes are based on the latest COVID-19 figures in the area and the recommendations of experts on the district's Scientific Medical Advisory Council, which is comprised of UF, ACPS and Alachua County Health Department officials.
Here are the changes the district outlined:
- For the rest of this school year, masks will not be required outdoors on our campuses for students or adults. We will continue to encourage social distancing outside as much as possible. Masks will still be required indoors (except when eating and drinking) and on our school buses, except for those with an exemption.
- Temperature checks will not be required on our campuses for students or adults.
- Masks will be optional on our campuses (indoors and outdoors) for our summer programs, unless there is a significant spike in cases or other health/safety issues.
- Masks will be optional on our campuses (indoors and outdoors) for the 2021-22 school year, again depending on the course of the pandemic locally and based on the advice of our medical experts.
"We will continue to consult our medical experts, who review this information regularly," the policy pronouncement said. "We will keep you informed of any additional changes to our COVID protocols and procedures in the future."
The district commended the ongoing efforts of healthcare professionals, teachers and others who have continued to promote learning and limit the spread of COIVD-19 throughout the pandemic.
The decision to make masks optional in the fall aligns with a letter of request Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran sent to districts earlier this month.
"Broad sweeping mandatory face covering policies serve no remaining good at this point," he wrote.