What to expect when your child returns to school

PINELLAS COUNTY — This year, Pinellas County Schools is giving families three learning options. For families who choose, the traditional option of face-to-face classes on campus, things are going to look a lot different.

The Pinellas County School District has implemented a variety of new practices in response to COVID-19 to help keep everyone as safe and healthy as possible. The district has prepared a plan to ensure that schools are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.

PCS is also relying on students, staff and families to help prevent the virus from spreading.

Health recommendations

Health experts recommend that we keep a safe social distance, wear masks or face coverings when that is not possible and keep our hands clean and sanitized to prevent the spread of germs.

When your child returns to school, they will see signs around campus reminding everyone to follow important safety practices. Since we can’t always keep a safe social distance on school campuses, students and staff will be required to wear masks or face shields.

Masks should be worn in hallways, classrooms and even cafeterias, except when eating or drinking. To support this requirement, the school district will be providing five washable, reusable masks to all students and staff members.

Procedures for students who ride the bus

Students who ride the bus will need to wear their mask when they get on the bus and for the duration of their trip to and from school. The bus will be loaded from back to front to limit the number of students that walk past each other.

For the same reason, when students get off the bus, they will exit the bus from front to back. They will follow a similar procedure when they take the bus home. To ensure the bus is clean, drivers will disinfect buses between each run.

Arriving at school

When students arrive at school, they should make sure they are wearing their masks. They should head straight to class to ensure that groups do not form at the school entrance or front office.

Sanitizing your hands

Health experts recommend washing your hands or sanitizing them frequently to kill germs. Schools will have hand sanitizer in convenient places across campus. Students should sanitize their hands before they head to class in the morning and throughout the day. They will also have plenty of time to wash their hands before lunch.

Cafeteria rules

The cafeteria is going to look different, too. When students line up, they must be six feet apart from their classmates and school staff as much as possible. They will also need to wear masks when they are not eating or drinking.

Fewer large groups

To better protect everyone, schools will have fewer large group gatherings. Classes will be arranged to increase social distancing. And some classes may be held outdoors or in larger rooms, like auditoriums. There will be fewer assemblies and large group activities. Students will also be spread out during assessments to ensure that everyone is a safe social distance from each other.

Special circumstances

The school district recognizes that very young students, those in PreK or kindergarten, as well as students with special needs may not be able to wear masks the same way as other students. To better ensure that everyone is safe, we are requiring that employees wear masks, face coverings or face shields.

PCS also understands that it may be difficult for students to wear masks the entire school day. Therefore, schools will provide mask breaks for students, and classes may be moved to larger spaces whenever possible.

Children should NOT come to school sick

Attendance is important so that students can be successful in school, but the school district does not want students to come to school if they feel sick. If your child does not feel well, please make sure your child stays home, and contact your child’s school to let them know why. Each morning before your student comes to school, make sure your child is well and symptom-free.

You can learn more about Pinellas County Schools reopening plans at www.pcsb.org/reopening.

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