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Bay District Schools Hires Nurse to Coordinate COVID-19 Response

Bay District Schools Facebook

As K-12 teachers and staff in Bay County prepare to reopen schools, district leaders have hired a registered nurse to serve as the primary contact for all COVID-19-related questions.

BayCo.jpg Bay District Schools Facebook

“Our administrators and our directors need someone on our team that they feel like they can go to right away,” said Bay District Schools’ Superintendent Bill Husfelt.

On Wednesday, district leaders announced Lyndsey Jackson, a certified pediatric nurse, will serve as a liaison between county health department officials and school employees. Before accepting a position with the district, she spent 18 years as a registered nurse at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, according to Jackson’s LinkedIn profile.

“I’m excited that we were able to hire someone with pediatric experience,” Husfelt said.

Even as cases continue to climb countywide, students are scheduled to return to the classroom on Aug. 20. A state mandate requires all K-12 schools to reopen this month for regular in-person instruction.

The county’s seven-day average coronavirus transmission rate is 21%, with 696 additional cases confirmed in the last week, according to data provided by the Florida Department of Health in Bay County.

“We know these cases are not going to go away,” Husfelt said. “People are going to continue to get this virus.”

After employees returned to the classroom last week, district leaders have been stressing to them the importance of mask-wearing, regular hand-washing and social distancing, Husfelt said. “What I’m asking our employees to do is to be careful and to not let their guard down,” he said. “When you let your guard down, that’s when you’re most susceptible.”

In Jackson’s new role as the district’s COVID-19 point-of-contact, she’s begun holding weekly conference calls with administrators and health department officials. “We’re really working as a strong team to keep everyone safe and healthy and informed.”

Jackson says she will meet virtually with school leaders every Monday and Wednesday throughout the semester. Ahead of the new school year, she's guiding administrators and district leaders on the necessary health and safety protocol to follow if someone in the classroom is suspected to have COVID-19.

"The students will be screened in the health room," she said. "If they have symptoms of COVID-19, they will be isolated. They will be tested."

Some schools will have rapid tests, which deliver results in 15 minutes, Jackson said.

If a students tests positive for the virus, she'll coordinate with school administrators and health department officials to ensure proper protocol is followed, Jackson said.

“They will be sent home and asked to isolate,” she said. “And then the department of health will work with the family to provide contact tracing and identify anyone who had contact with that student.”

The district doesn't have any standard in place that would require an entire classroom of students to go home if one of them tests positive, Jackson said.

“We have to really take it on a case-by-case basis because everything is different,” she said. “There are some classroom situations where students are working really closely together. There are other situations where they are able to socially distance more.”

District staff who have symptoms can get tested at a mobile site set up on the campus of Gulf Coast State College on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

At least three teachers have recently tested positive for the virus, said Superintendent Bill Husfelt. “We’ve got employees all summer that have had this.”

Copyright 2020 WFSU. To see more, visit .

Valerie Crowder is a freelance reporter based in Panama City, Florida. Before moving to Florida, she covered politics and education for Public Radio East in New Bern, North Carolina. While at PRE, she was also a fill-in host during All Things Considered. She got her start in public radio at WAER-FM in Syracuse, New York, where she was a part-time reporter, assistant producer and host. She has a B.A. in newspaper online journalism and political science from Syracuse University. When she’s not reporting the news, she enjoys reading classic fiction and thrillers, hiking with members of the Florida Trail Association and doing yoga.