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Adults again required to mask in Alachua County schools

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

An email has been sent to Alachua County Public Schools principals regarding COVID-19 protocols when school starts on January 4. Separate emails will be sent to families and employees.

The email says that “In light of the surge in COVID cases and hospitalizations, mostly due to omicron,” the protocols will be modified from those that were in place starting December 6, when the employee mask mandate ended. The student mask mandate ended on November 18 after the governor signed a law, passed during the legislative special session, that prohibits mask mandates on children in public schools.

The school district will “once again be requiring masks for employees, as well as for volunteers, vendors, and visitors to our campuses during school hours. We hope this won’t last long, since omicron is expected to peak quickly, but we’ll keep you posted.”

Under the protocols, students with “any symptoms of COVID-19 must stay home. This includes unvaccinated and fully-vaccinated students. Symptoms include but are not limited to fever, cough, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, shortness of breath and others.” Any student who tests positive for COVID-19 must stay home; the student may return to school when symptoms are gone AND the student receives a negative COVID-19 test; 10 days have passed since the first symptom, symptoms are improving, and the student has had no fever for 24 hours; or a note from a licensed medical doctor or APRN. Quarantine is recommended but not required for students who have had contact with someone who has COVID-19 unless the student develops symptoms.

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The protocols for employees who have symptoms, test positive, or have contact with someone who has COVID-19 are the same as those for students. Employees who are fully-vaccinated (2 doses of Moderna or Pfizer or one dose of Johnson & Johnson) have their leave time covered if they develop a breakthrough case; unvaccinated employees must use their own leave time if they test positive for COVID-19.

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