School district answers COVID-19 questions leading up to 2020-2021 school year

Posted on July 7, 2020 by Staff reports

Frequently Asked Questions – Parents

A COVID-19 vaccine hasn’t been developed. Why open schools now?

The decision to open schools was made with the Florida Department of Health of Santa Rosa County using guidance from Governor DeSantis, and the Florida Department of Education, the CDC, and the parent survey. Students who are not in school may experience a significant decrease in learning as well as being at-risk for social-emotional issues without support from the public education system. Families concerned with returning to the traditional school setting may opt to enroll in our full-time virtual school through Santa Rosa Online with a one-semester commitment.
Fall 2020 Options for Students:

What are the options for students for the fall reopening of schools?

Students have 3 options for fall 2020, unless given updated guidance from the Department of Health and/or the Florida Department of Education and Governor’s office.

  • Return to in-person, five-days a week classroom instruction at their zoned or reassigned school
  • Enroll in our full-time virtual school through Santa Rosa Online with a minimum of a one-semester commitment.
  • Home-school or enroll in a private school

What is Santa Rosa Online?

Santa Rosa Online is an opportunity for students to move beyond the traditional school setting into the world of full-time online learning. Santa Rosa Online offers online courses free of charge to Santa Rosa County students through our Florida Virtual School (FLVS) franchise, Fuel Education and Connections Learning. Please visit ( for more information.

When will the 2020-21 school year begin?

Unless there is updated guidance from the Florida Department of Education and/or Department of Health, the 2020-21 school year will begin for students on August 10th, 2020.

How and when do I register my student for fall 2020?

Please follow the instructions on the registration page ( of the district website.

  • Prospective Pre-K students need to contact TR Jackson to apply.
  • Prospective full-time virtual students need to contact Santa Rosa Online to apply.
  • Parents with children that are new to the district that are going into traditional K-12 schools need to register through Focus. Doing so will provide the parent with a portal account, and each they register child will have their own student portal account.
  • For students that already exist in the district, a parent will need to establish a Focus account so they can access the parent portal. That account will be linked to their children’s student portal account.

What is meant by blended digital days at schools?

Students returning to their zoned brick and mortar schools will have blended digital days built into their schedule with their teachers. The content will be presented through an instructional platform using devices at their school site. The content will be similar to FLVS and will be more structured and rigorous than the online learning model implemented after spring break. This will prepare students for online learning in the event that schools need to move everyone to full-time virtual instruction.

Will students be screened?

Public Health is everyone’s responsibility and the school district is asking cooperation from all stakeholders to mitigate health risks to our students and employees. Student temperatures should be taken at home before coming to school. Anyone with a fever must not attend school. Schools will be temperature screening with a target of 100% testing weekly. Students returning to school after being ill will be temperature screened upon return.

Will employees be screened?

Employees will have their temperature checked or acknowledge that they have self-checked before arriving at school.

Will students wear masks?

Students, especially bus riders and medically fragile, are HIGHLY encouraged to wear masks. This guidance may change as circumstances locally change.

Will employees wear masks?

Based on recommendations from the Surgeon General and the local health department, employees will be required to wear a mask. Masks must be worn anytime the 6 foot social distancing recommendation cannot be followed, when transitioning to and from their assigned work area or when assigned to work in a common area. The District will be providing the initial cloth masks to employees to meet this requirement. Employees may choose to wear their own with prior approval from their Supervisor.

What happens if a child feels ill while at school?

Students at school found to have a fever or exhibiting signs listed on assessment questions will be sent to a “sick area” of the school clinic and parents contacted. Only one person will be allowed in the school to pick up the student from the clinic. Students may not return until they do not have a fever and will be rescreened upon their return. Students should not return to school until fever free without medication for 72 hours.

What happens if a child/teacher tests positive for COVID-19?

The Department of Health is notified of each positive COVID-19 case and will conduct the contact tracing and notify anyone who will need to self-isolate.

How will students be assessed upon entering the bus?

Student temperatures should be taken at home prior to boarding the bus. Temperature screening of students while entering the bus creates safety concerns and adding personnel is currently not feasible.

What precautions will bus drivers be taking?

Bus drivers will be temperature screened prior to starting their routes. Bus drivers will be provided face masks.

How will students be seated on the bus?

Buses will be seating riders by stops from the back of the bus towards the front. These common bus stop cohort groups will be distanced as much as feasible. ESE buses with medically fragile students will have extra precautions.

What happens if a student on the bus becomes ill?

A student who feels ill after boarding the bus will be isolated in the front row with a mask. The school will contact the parent to retrieve their child. Only one adult will be allowed into the school to retrieve the student.

How and when will buses be cleaned?

The buses will be cleaned after the AM and PM runs with approved cleaning supplies from Student Transportation of America (STA)

Where will school meals be eaten?

Students will eat school meals in the cafeteria where seating will be socially distanced as feasible. Schools will cohort lunch groups as much as possible to limit exposure to new groups of students.

How will meals be served?

Students will be given pre-packaged grab and go meals with disposable supplies. Students will not be self-serving from food trays.

What are the cleaning procedures for the cafeteria?

Cafeterias will be cleaned by custodial staff throughout the lunch sessions. No students will be part of the cleaning of the cafeteria.

What are the personal hygiene protocols in schools?

Students and employees will continue with best practices of personal hygiene including but not limited to washing hands, avoiding touching your face, covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throwing the tissue in the trash, and socially distancing as much as feasible.

What are the extra cleaning precautions at schools?

Schools will have additional custodial help specifically for pre-determined additional cleaning measures. Additional automatic hand sanitizer machines will be added to each school site and utilized especially at the high-traffic areas. Additional cleaning supplies will be made available to school employees who may desire to do more in their own areas.
Classroom Arrangements

How will students be socially distanced in the classroom?

Classrooms will be arranged to allow for as much distancing as feasible.

What do class changes at the middle schools and high schools look like?

Currently it is believed that the virus is passed through sustained close contact of 30 minutes or more by unmasked persons. Students will be asked to go straight to their next class, wear masks, and not loiter in gathering areas between classes.

What will recess look like?

Students will be kept in small assigned groups and assigned to designated areas of the playground or fields.
Special Area, Electives, Field Trips and Mass Gatherings

What will large special areas classes such as PE and music look like?

Social distancing will be adhered to as much as possible. Students will be encouraged to wear masks. All laws regarding the number of minutes a student gets outdoors must be adhered to.

What will band look like?

Band directors are developing protocols to follow, and they will be posted when approved.

What will chorus look like?

Choral directors are developing protocols to follow, and they will be posted when approved.

What is the field trip policy?

Field trips and activities away from school are on hold for the time being. Special circumstances, such as life-skills trips for IEP purposes, will be looked at on a case by case basis.

Will pep rallies and mass gatherings be held?

Schools will limit mass gatherings, such as pep rallies, during the school day. When they will be allowed, mass gatherings will be limited to outdoor venues and follow current capacity public health guidelines.
Athletics and Extracurriculars

How will athletics be handled?

All coaches and students will be temperature screened prior to practice. Everyone will wash hands or use hand sanitizer upon entering and exiting all practices and workouts. A thorough cleaning and disinfecting procedure will be conducted post-practice and prior to the start of any new session. Guidance regarding games are still being developed and will be posted when approved.

Will there be extracurricular events before or after school hours?

Extracurricular events will be held in appropriate venues and follow current capacity public health guidelines.
Volunteers and Visitors to the School

Will volunteers be allowed in the schools?

School Board approved volunteers will be limited primarily to those that are assisting with screening students and essential curriculum needs. All volunteers must check-in at the school office, as they normally would. In addition, they will be asked about their health and temperature screened.

Will visitors be allowed in the schools?

Visitors will be limited after school starts to those that have a legitimate reason for being at school, i.e. picking up a sick child. Visitors must check-in at the school office, as they normally would. In addition, they will be asked about their health and temperature screened.

What considerations are being given to the mental health of the students?

Readjusting to school during this stressful time may be difficult for many students and experiencing an array of emotions will be normal. The school district provides mental health services for students through our CDAC Services, MFLC (Military Family Life Counselors) and our Certified School Counselors. We also work closely with community agencies to provide more intensive services if needed. All employees are required to complete a Youth Mental Health First Aid course and secondary students receive mental and emotional health instruction each year. Should a student or parent need assistance related to mental health for any reason, they can reach out to their teachers or school counselors for help. Parents can also contact the Coordinator of Mental Health Services at 850-983-5568 with any additional questions or concerns.
Community School (Latchkey)

What precautions are being implemented with the Community School (Latchkey) program?

Community School will continue with current guidelines and protocols developed for the ongoing summer program including but not limited to proper and frequent personal hygiene such as hand washing, temperature screening of students and employees, and social distancing upon arrival, during the program, and at dismissal.