Frequently Asked Questions
How will Pinellas County Schools keep families, staff, and students informed regarding Coronavirus?
Pinellas County Schools is sending biweekly emails to families and staff to provide the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19. The district has also established a webpage with the latest information – www.pcsb.org/coronavirus.
The district continues to follow the guidance of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Florida Department of Health in our response to COVID -19. This is a rapidly evolving situation as soon as new information becomes available, we will let you know.
In the event a school will need to close, families will receive notifications similar to weather-related closures, through phone call, email, and SMS messages. Please make sure your contact information is up to date at your child's school.
View detailed instructions to update your contact information.
How is Pinellas County Schools cleaning and disinfecting schools?
Maintenance staff have been directed to clean and disinfect all touchable areas at the end of each school day using a non-toxic germicidal detergent. They have also prioritized cleaning common and high traffic areas multiple times a day and ensuring that soap and hand sanitizer are available at all times. Prioritized cleaning includes bathrooms, the lunchroom, the school clinic, common spaces, door handles, emergency bars on doors, etc. This means that ongoing “maintenance” or litter pick-up outside will be de-prioritized until further notice. All efforts will be made to keep students healthy and safe.
The district has created a short video outlining some of our elevated cleaning procedures.
How is Pinellas County Schools ensuring buses are clean?
Bus drivers are thoroughly disinfecting buses at the end of each shift using Clorox wipes. Drivers are wiping down front and backs of seats windows, handrails, doors and any touchable areas.
How will Pinellas County Schools handle student absences?
Pinellas County Schools’ general attendance policy (5501) for students remains in effect. We recognize that families know what is best for their children and are asking parents to make the best decision for their families. Students who are sick should stay home.
The district has suspended the attendance portion of the exam exemption policy for high school students, for this semester only. All other portions of the policy remain in effect.
Please let your child’s school know if you will be keeping them home.
When should a student or staff member stay home?
Per guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if students or staff experience fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, cough, and/or difficulty breathing, they should stay home from school and contact their health care provider immediately.
If a student demonstrates these symptoms while at school, they will be immediately separated to another space in the school while continuing to be monitored by an adult, and a family member or emergency contact will be called to pick them up. We know this may cause anxiety and fear for our students and we will do our best to address any concerns. We are committed to ensuring students are supported with love, compassion, and care.
If a staff person exhibits symptoms, they will be asked to leave school and call their healthcare provider immediately. We will monitor the staff person’s health conditions as appropriate.
For more information, please contact your healthcare provider or the Florida Department of Health COVID-19 hotline at 1-866-779-6121.
If a student does need to stay home, how can they receive assignments?
Students should contact their school and/or teacher to receive assignments while absent.
What is the criteria for closing a school?
The Florida Departments of Health and Education will take the lead on determining if a school closure is necessary. At this time, they are recommending schools remain open. While education is our primary responsibility, public schools are also the access point to critical social services for thousands of students and families.
While we are preparing for the delivery of online learning, should the Department of Health deem that necessary, another consideration is the unintended impact on our health care community and our collective response to COVID-19. Pinellas County and the Tampa Bay Area are fortunate to have great medical institutions and providers. This means many of our students’ parents are health care providers or work in the health care industry. If schools close, fewer people will be able to provide front-line support. The longer we can keep our doors open, the better it will be for our students and the entire community.
Our goal is to keep our doors open as long as possible, while prioritizing the health and safety of our students. With that said, we are tracking staff and student attendance daily.
In the unlikely event the Department of Health determines a school must closed, how will students receive instruction?
The district has a digital learning plan in place in the unlikely event the Department of Health determines that we must close a school. This is similar to the digital learning plan we would implement in the event of hurricane-related closures.
If a school closes for less than 5 days, then teachers will post lessons on the student portal FOCUS for students to complete and post.
If a school closes for more than 5 days, teachers will use a software called Microsoft Teams to ensure no disruption in learning.
Digital Learning for Students
- WiFi Access: Thanks to Spectrum, free WiFi will be provided to all students. For students to enroll, they will need to call 1-844-488-8395. All installation fees will be waived for new student households. WiFi hotspots across Spectrum’s footprint will also be available for public use.
Student State Assessments
The Florida Department of Education (FDOE) has announced that all PK-12 student state assessments will be cancelled for the 2019-20 school year. FDOE will provide guidance to school districts in the near future regarding any potential impacts for students. As the district learns more information we will share this with our community.
State School Grade Designations vs. Student Grades
The Florida Department of Education (FDOE) has announced that all school grade designations will not be calculated for schools for the 2019-20 school year.
Students will continue to earn grades based on their progress in their classes. Student grades and credits will continue to count toward promotion and/or graduation.
Student Instructional Hours
The Florida Department of Education (FDOE) has announced that the Commissioner is evaluating how digital instruction will count toward student instructional hours. The Commissioner may reduce required K-12 instructional hours, as necessary, to accommodate for school closures.
If a school is closed, how will students who qualify for free or reduced lunch be supported?
As part of our emergency plan to address the closure of schools or a school, we have the capacity to provide sack lunches prepared by our central kitchen. Distribution sites will be determined. We may distribute from school campuses, neighboring schools, the district’s mobile food trucks or in partnership with community centers in affected areas.
During the week of March 23 through April 15, our district will establish Grab-and-Go feeding sites at nine Pinellas County Schools to ensure that students have accessibility to meals during this timeframe. Our Food & Nutrition Services Department has identified the locations listed below that will provide both breakfast and lunch to all individuals 18 years old or under.
As school closures through April 15 were just announced, additional information with regard to longer-term food distribution will be forthcoming.
From March 23 through April 15 each location will serve a lunch and breakfast, in a single bag. While we encourage parents and caregivers to drive to our locations, we will be accepting walk-ups. Additionally, Pinellas County Emergency Management will be coordinating with other local food providers to allow students to have access to nutritional options at other locations as well. The school sites below will be utilized as distribution sites.
School Time Dunedin Elementary
900 Union St., Dunedin
10:45 am - 11:45 am Eisenhower Elementary
2800 Drew St., Clearwater
11:00 am - Noon Fairmount Park Elementary
575 41st St. S, St. Petersburg
10:15 am - 11:15 am Marjorie K. Rawlings Elementary
6505 68th St. N, Pinellas Park
11:00 am - Noon John Hopkins Middle
701 16th St S, St. Petersburg
10:30 am - 11:30 am New Heights Elementary
3901 37th St. N, St. Petersburg
10:45 am - 11:45 am Ponce De Leon Elementary
1301 Ponce de Leon Blvd. Clearwater
11:15 am - 12:15 pm Southern Oak Elementary
9101 Walsingham Rd., Largo
11:15 am - 12:15 pm Tarpon Springs Elementary
555 Pine St., Tarpon Springs
10:30 am - 11:30 am
What is canceled?
In response to a recommendation from the Florida Departments of Education and Health, beginning immediately, all field trips involving airline travel out-of-state are being suspended. This includes all previously approved trips and those still in the planning stage. If you are planning to participate in a field trip that includes air travel later in the spring or summer, please know that these will not be approved at this time, however they may be considered at a later date depending on developments related to COVID-19.
All out-of-county field trips previously approved or in the planning stage must be reviewed with the area superintendent prior to finalizing departure. Previous approval may be rescinded if circumstances indicate it necessary.
We recognize these changes will disappoint students. We ask for your patience and understanding as we work together to keep our students and staff safe and healthy.
Why aren’t athletics canceled?
Update: 3/13/20 All out-of-county athletic events have been canceled through March 23. The decision was made in an abundance of caution, to keep our students as safe as possible. Future out-of-county athletic events will be reviewed on a case by case basis.
High school athletics are governed by the Florida High School Athletics Association (FHSAA), a state-wide organization. They will make the final determination on athletics. We continue to be in conversation with FHSAA and will let parents and students know if anything changes.
At a school level, we ae ensuring that athletic equipment is cleaned and disinfected after each use for games or practice. And instead of shaking hands, athletes are using elbow-bumps, head-nods, toe-taps, etc. to acknowledge their opponents after each game.
What procedures does Pinellas County Schools have in place?
To ensure we are prepared for all situations, we have emergency procedures in place, including for infectious diseases. Currently, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Pinellas County Schools.
Per these procedures, we are working in partnership with the Department of Health and Pinellas County Emergency Management as the lead agencies in our COVID-19 response. We will continue to follow the guidance of public health experts to ensure we are implementing the highest level of precaution and prevention.
Prevention measures include:
- providing resources, supplies, and time for all students to wash their hands when they arrive at school, before lunch, and after using the restroom
- maintenance staff have been directed to prioritize cleaning common, high traffic and touchable areas multiple times a day
- prioritized cleaning includes bathrooms, the lunchroom, school clinic, common spaces, door handles, emergency bar on doors, etc.
What are the procedures and instructions for students to wash their hands?
Hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is the most effective way to contain the spread of illness and disease, including COVID-19. Learn more about hand washing and proper technique by watching this video.
We are educating students on proper handwashing and are encouraging them to wash their hands when they arrive at school, anytime they have used the restroom, and prior to lunch. These are always good habits and critical to the containment of any disease. Our school-based staff will be prioritizing hand washing, and maintenance staff will keep soap fully stocked in bathrooms to support these efforts. Staff will also reinforce good hygiene and remind students to not touch their face, nose, or mouth, sneeze into a tissue or elbow, and reduce physical hand contact (high fives, fist bumps, etc.). The district will work with individual school leaders in implementation of district standards for hand washing.
What are the Florida Department of Health quarantine recommendations?
Who should self-quarantine? Self-quarantine means staying at home and away from others and self-monitoring for symptoms, including doing twice-daily temperature checks. Individuals in the following categories should self-quarantine for 14 days per the CDC:
- Recent travelers to countries with widespread or ongoing community spread. As of March 11, these countries include China, Iran, Italy and South Korea.
- Close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases. For example, Barry’s wife, Shelly was recently confirmed to have COVID-19. Barry should self-quarantine for 14 days per the CDC, monitor symptoms, and notify his healthcare provider and the Department of Health if he becomes ill.
- For questions about self-quarantine Florida Department of Health COVID-19 hotline at 1-866-779-6121.
How can parents support healthy schools?
If regular hand washing isn’t possible, the next best option is to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or sanitizer wipes, with 60% alcohol. Currently, the district has supplies for schools but because this is a national and global event, eventually there could be a shortage. One way families and partners can help is to provide:
- Hand sanitizer or alcohol-based sanitizer wipes to school offices (at least 60% alcohol, dye free and fragrance-free)
- General all-purpose disinfectant in a spray bottle
These resources will help prevent classrooms from running short on supplies. The district is also providing schools additional cleaning and sanitizing supplies.
You can bring donations to your school’s main office. This will help the district’s efforts to continue to sanitize surfaces and help with hygiene.
Where can I turn for more information?
As with any newly emerging infectious disease, knowledge evolves with time. Early on, it is difficult to know the source of the disease, the ways in which it spreads, how effectively it spreads from person to person, and how severe the infection is. Please only trust reliable information sources such as those linked below.