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Masks Optional In Marion Schools To Begin School Year

Empty classroom with chalkboard on wall
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

In Alachua County, the school district is still finalizing a COVID plan, but it did announce the hiring of 30 nurses to help mitigate the virus.

Marion County Public Schools announced that the district will begin the 2021-22 school year by making wearing masks optional for students and staff.

The district will allow full capacity athletic and arts events while consistently following health recommendations “to the extent possible.”

“Face coverings can be worn by any student, staff member, or campus visitor/volunteer who feels it necessary to do so,” says the school district. “Social distancing will be observed as much as possible, along with regular hand washing, daily disinfecting of high-touch and flat-surface areas, and use of water bottle refill stations, among other safety precautions.”

The announcement stated that given the return to “openness” on campuses, schools could make individual decisions limiting participation based on a community’s specific needs. The district also stressed that students and staff who feel sick should stay home to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Alachua County Public School’s website says that the district is still updating its COVID plan for this fall and that it will address testing, masking, social distancing, contract tracing, quarantines and other “COVID-related issues.”

The plan will be shared with the school board during its regular meeting Aug. 3.

Even without a concrete “COVID plan” in place, Alachua schools announced Thursday that the district will hire an additional 30 nurses to help schools mitigate the coronavirus.

The district said the nurses will take on most of the COVID-related tasks including contract tracing, testing, vaccination and education.