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LCS now requiring staff and visitors to wear masks in school buildings

The district also reduced the quarantine period for positive students to five days.
Leon County School board members are now working without pay, after the state ruled the...
Leon County School board members are now working without pay, after the state ruled the district’s new COVID policies still violate the law.(WCTV)
Published: Jan. 3, 2022 at 4:16 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 4, 2022 at 1:20 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Leon County Schools announced Tuesday afternoon it is now requiring staff to wear masks in school buildings unless they maintain social distancing of 6 feet away from others.

Masks will remain optional for students so the district can stay compliant with state law. LCS won’t lock down campuses; however, visitors will be required to wear a mask at all times indoors.

LCS says the quarantine period for COVID-positive students is still 10 days. Students can return to the classroom if they’re asymptomatic and can provide a negative COVID-19 test or a doctor’s note.

LCS Superintendent Rocky Hanna hosted the press conference about the start of the school year’s second semester.

Hanna said the district saw the omicron variant’s spread on the horizon going into winter break, so they were prepared to make adjustments and changes going into the new year. The district met with the Leon Public Health Department on Monday and had a call with Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare leaders before Tuesday’s press conference.

“We are strongly encouraging students to wear masks to protect themselves, teachers and their classmates,” Hanna said.

Currently, there are zero coronavirus cases among school-age children at TMH. Alan Cox, LCS assistant superintendent, said 60% of adults at TMH who’ve tested positive are not in the hospital for COVID-19.

Cox said before the break, most students and faculty were still wearing masks during the school day and at events where they couldn’t keep social distancing.

Hanna said LCS will start updating its COVID dashboard again with case information by school, students and staff. He estimated around 80 teachers out of the 2,000 the district employs were impacted by COVID-19 during the break.

The superintendent also answered a question about staffing shortages, saying the district is in a good situation when it comes to substitute teachers. On the flip side, LCS is hurting when it comes to bus drivers: the district has the exact same number of drivers as routes.

“I was expecting worse,” Hanna said. “I’m happy to say it looks like the vast majority of our employees will be able to welcome our kids back tomorrow.”

Hanna announced the district will once again utilize designated COVID-19 testing sites for LCS students, employees and families. More information will be sent to parents later Tuesday, but Hanna said those testing sites will be up and running Wednesday with the same locations and hours as last fall.

You can read WCTV’s story previewing the press conference below.

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story said LCS reduced its quarantine period for students to five days, in step with the CDC’s guidance. The school district announced on Jan. 5 it’s going back to the 10-day quarantine period in order to meet the state of Florida’s standards. Read more about this update here.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Leon County Schools says there will “not be any major changes” to how schools were operating prior to winter break due to the Omicron variant.

LCS spokesman Chris Petley told WCTV on Monday that the district will hold a press conference Tuesday to further discuss what the start of the second semester will look like.

“Our schools will be open in the state of Florida,” Governor Ron DeSantis said at a press conference in Broward County on Monday, saying the data shows “worse outcomes” when schools are closed. DeSantis added that the state’s universities will also have in-person instruction and, if they don’t, should give tuition refunds.

This is a developing story. WCTV will have full coverage of LCS’ press conference on Tuesday.

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