During the July 27th meeting, the Leon County School Board decided to maintain a masks optional policy for now and debated the quarantine protocols for students or faculty who are exposed to COVID-19 during the 2021-2022 school year.
The mask optional policy has been the focus of public comment over the last two months. However, it appears unless there is a measurable change in the impact of COVID on the school system, parents and students will have the option of wearing a mask.
But now another issue has taken center stage.
During the Tuesday night meeting, many worried parents and their supporters gathered to voice concerns over the quarantine protocols. Numerous speakers expressed their dislike of the new procedures and implored the Board and the Superintendent to make changes.
A primary concern was that the quarantine protocol procedure for a vaccinated individual is different for someone who is not vaccinated. They believe this may lead to discrimination toward children and staff who have not been vaccinated.
The new recommendations state that if a vaccinated student is exposed to COVID-19, they do not have to get tested and do not have to quarantine. A vaccinated student is required to show proof of vaccination.
If a student who is not vaccinated is exposed to COVID-19, they must quarantine for 10 days. If after seven days the student tests negative, they can return to school.
Many speakers argued that there have been recent positive cases of vaccinated individuals testing positive for COVID, and those who are vaccinated can still spread the virus. Therefore, unless the exposed individual tests negative, regardless of their vaccination status, they should be treated equally and quarantine the same way.
In addition, some argued that the process is equivalent to requiring a vaccine passport which is not legal under state law.
Superintendent Hanna said he would speak the governor’s office to get clarity on the quarantine options moving forward.
Hanna commented after the public speakers, stating, “we are caught in crossfire of recommendations” from federal and state governments, but they are trying to make the best decisions possible, “we want to do what is best for our children, to keep them safe and educate them.”
LCS Quarantine Procedures
If exposed to a positive case:
—If FULLY vaccinated, no quarantine is needed, and the employee does not need to leave their site.
—Employee should NOT get tested if fully vaccinated. If tested and, and it is positive, full quarantine will be required.
—If NOT fully vaccinated, the employee should leave and get tested as soon as possible (Rapid or PCR).
—If the test is negative and asymptomatic, they can return immediately with a negative test result from an approved testing site with the result indicating the employee’s name.
—If FULLY vaccinated, the student must show proof of vaccination (Examples include – vaccination card, clearance letter from Health Department, or the Parent Portal in FL Shots printout).
—If NOT fully vaccinated, the student must quarantine 10 days starting from the day of their identified exposure to a positive case OR they can be tested (Rapid or PCR) on Day 7. The student can return to school on Day 8 with a negative test result from an approved testing site with the results indicating the student’s name.