School district establishes COVID-19 response team

Prescott Cowles, left and Jason Stanford, right.
Prescott Cowles, left and Jason Stanford, right.
Photo courtesy Alachua County Public Schools

A new COVID-19 Response Team has been established to assess, improve, and sustain the COVID-19 prevention efforts in Alachua County Public Schools.

Superintendent Carlee Simon officially introduced the team at the January 19th School Board meeting, where they shared a report on their completed and ongoing projects, plus an outline of their upcoming actions to address the unmet needs of students, staff, and families during the coronavirus pandemic.

Jason Stanford, a teacher from Hawthorne Middle/High School and former CDC Public Health Analyst, will lead the team’s program evaluation and accountability initiatives. Prescott Cowles, a science teacher from Hillsborough County and former program eirector at Camp Crystal Lake, will develop the district’s communication and community engagement strategy for COVID-19.

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Parents and students can explore the COVID Response Team page to catch up on the team’s first board report, watch the full video of the team’s presentation, and learn more about each member’s experience and ongoing efforts.

Jason Stanford, Program Evaluation and Accountability

Stanford is a native of Alachua County and a Hawthorne High School graduate. He earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology at the University of Florida, and his master’s degree in public administration from Georgia State University.

He began his career in public health with the Georgia Division of Public Health, managing public health grants at the county level. After several years at the state level, Stanford moved to the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C., where he served as a grants management specialist and public health analyst managing grant-funded programs for states and universities around the country.

In 2012, Mr. Stanford returned to Georgia to work at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), where he served as a public health analyst, providing guidance for emergency preparedness and response programs at the state level. During his time at the CDC, Stanford also served on an Ebola response team assisting state and local governments prevent the spread of Ebola in the United States.

In 2016, Stanford returned home to Alachua County. He served as a long-term substitute in the district for one year, and then became a social studies teacher at Hawthorne Middle/High School. He is a guardian ad litem in our region, and serves on boards of local non-profit organizations.

Reach him via email at Email:

Prescott Cowles, Communication and Community Engagement

Cowles is a native of Alachua County and a graduate of the IB program at Eastside High School. He earned his bachelor’s degree in secondary science education at the University of South Florida.

He began his teaching career in Hillsborough County at Franklin Boys Preparatory Academy, a public Title I middle school with a single-gender magnet program. While teaching 7th and 8th-grade science, he also served as head coach for the school’s track and field team and an instructor in an after school course recovery program.

He first joined Alachua County Public Schools as a camp counselor at Camp Crystal Lake in 2014, where he has continued to work for the past seven summers. Most recently he served as program director, responsible for overseeing daily camp program operations and coordinating the camp’s staff leadership council.

In 2019, he transitioned to a year-round position as camper specialist and registrar. In this role, he organized staff development programs for new hires, returning staff, and camp leadership, rebuilt and streamlined the camp’s payment and reporting system, and served as the primary contact for all schools, parents, summer staff, vendors, and community organizations.

Following the closure of Camp Crystal in summer 2020, he provided support for the district at the office of student assignment, Lake Forest Elementary, Alachua eSchool, and in the volunteer/partners in education office, earning a unique perspective of the pandemic’s many impacts on schools and families in Alachua County this year.

Reach out to Cowles via email at

To watch the COVID-19 Response Team’s Jan. 19 presentation click here.

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