Social Distancing and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • The district recognizes that there are differing opinions on the use of personal protective equipment, including masks/face coverings, by school-age children. In determining these guidelines, the district garnered input from students, parents, employees and community stakeholders through the districtwide survey, emails sent to the district and feedback groups. Following the recommendations of the Department of Health and the district’s medical advisory group, and in an effort to employ all measures possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the following principles will be followed to the greatest extent possible, with consideration given to unique facility and student circumstances. The district will review these guidelines should the circumstances change with regard to the local impact and spread of COVID-19 in Pinellas County.

    A school, by design, has numerous opportunities for socialization.  As social distancing is not possible at all times throughout a day, all employees and students must have a mask/face covering with them at all times. The district will issue five cloth masks to each staff member and student at the beginning of the school year.

    Masks/face coverings must be worn by all students, staff and individuals on campus, to the maximum extent possible, in hallways, common areas, classrooms, cafeterias (when not eating), during small group instruction, and anywhere social distancing is not possible.

    • Students and staff will receive instruction on the proper way to wear a mask/face covering
    • Masks/face coverings must adhere to standards as outlined in the student dress code
    • Student’s name must be written in permanent ink on their mask or face covering to avoid cross-contamination
    • Individuals (students or staff) who have a medical condition that does not allow for wearing a mask, must provide medical documentation

    The district understands that social distancing may not be possible on buses. Given the space and time restrictions of bus transportation, masks/face coverings must be worn by all students and employees on the bus. Buses will load from back to front and unload from front to back to decrease the opportunity for students to walk past each other. In addition, hand sanitizer will be provided on each bus and a dispenser will be mounted near the front of the bus. Drivers will also wipe down or spray handrails, seats, and windows with a disinfectant wipe or spray between each run.  Weather permitting, the windows on buses will be lowered two to three inches to allow for greater circulation.    

    In alignment with the recommendations made by the American Academy of Pediatrics, students in prekindergarten, kindergarten and classes with specialized populations may not be able to utilize masks/face coverings to the same extent as other classrooms.  In those instances, employees must wear masks/face coverings and face shields issued by the district.

    Recognizing that it may be difficult for students to wear masks/face coverings continuously throughout an entire school day, staff will be trained to allow for safe “mask/face covering breaks” and will work to balance safety with the students’ social-emotional wellbeing.

    Wherever possible, administrators will move classrooms to larger spaces where social distancing can occur (e.g. media center, auditorium, etc.).

    Classroom set-ups will be arranged to maximize space and increase social distancing between students. All extraneous furniture will be removed from the classroom.

    The sharing of instructional materials or manipulatives (e.g. pencils, supplies, center activities, etc.) will be minimized and shared items will be sanitized regularly.

    Lunch schedules will be altered to allow for increased room for students in the lunchroom/cafeteria. Masks/face coverings must be worn when not eating.

    To the maximum extent possible, students will move throughout the school as a cohort, to lessen the number of people students are exposed to throughout the school day.