ACPS releases reopening plan draft

Alachua County Public Schools (ACPS) released a draft of the 2021-22 COVID-19 Response Plan leaving room for updates on face mask use and other policies that the school board will address at its Aug. 3 meeting.

The 16-page document starts with an overview and ends with a COVID-19 screening flow chart that maps out which students can attend in-person classes and what scenarios would cause a student to be prevented from attending school.

No symptoms, no COVID-19 diagnosis and no close contact with someone with COVID-19 or fully vaccinated means a green light to attend school.

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But scenarios that include testing positive with or without symptoms, one or more symptoms and a negative test, one or more symptoms and close contact with someone with COVID-19, and being unvaccinated means a student cannot attend in-person classes. These scenarios lead to a 10-day period of isolation—starting from the time of either a positive test or the start of symptoms. In some cases, the student can return to in-person school with a negative test, no fever and improved symptoms.

According to the draft, the plan will remain flexible and could be changed if needed.

“The requirements and recommendations in this document are based on the best science available at this time and the current vaccination rates and level of COVID-19 transmission in Alachua County,” the draft plan says. “They are subject to change as new knowledge emerges and local community transmission changes.”

The School Board of Alachua County (SBAC) is set to discuss and approve the final COVID-19 Response Plan at the Aug. 3 regular meeting.

According to the agenda for that meeting, which starts at 6 p.m. and will be held virtually and in-person at the Alachua County Administration Building (12 SE 1st Street), Superintendent Carlee Simon will present the plan as an action item.

The topic of face mask use dominated the July 20th meeting, when more than two dozen attendees, including teachers, pediatricians, ACPS staff, and parents, spoke out on the issue.

The CDC issued updated guidance on Monday calling for “universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. Children should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with layered prevention strategies in place.”

Every county in Florida is now considered to be among the highest infection rates for COVID-19 in the United States, according to the CDC COVID data tracker.

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