Lee County Schools to require masks for students and staff at all times

Reporter: Dannielle Garcia Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:
Seal of the School District of Lee County. Photo via WINK News.
Seal of the School District of Lee County. Credit: WINK News.

Lee County Schools announced Friday in a live Q&A session via Facebook that they will be requiring masks to be worn at all times. Masks must be worn by students and staff at all times in all school buildings and district offices, beginning on August 31, when students return. Masks and PPE will be provided to schools, teachers, and students by the district weekly.

This comes just one day after the superintendent for Lee County Schools, Greg Adkins, admits he was looking into a mask requirement. After speaking with health officials, he decided info favor of the mask mandate.

“By having an additional requirement of literally requiring those masks to be worn at all times in the classroom cafeterias large spaces I think this is going to go a far way and make our students and our staff more safe,” Adkins said.

Another important question was asked during the Q&A – what happens if a teacher or student gets COVID? Will everyone automatically go back to quarantining at home?

Not necessarily we are putting a lot of mitigation tools in place, mandatory masks as well as social distancing and were also keeping our students in their own class or in cohorts so we can minimize the risk so that again will be on a case by case basis,” said Beth Wipf, Health Services Coordinator for Lee County School District.

Teachers will be expected to handle more than just teaching this fall so they wanted to know what else the district would be asking of them.

This is also a bargainable issue but I will say to you as you think about everything that’s going to have to be done in order to really meet the safety of all of our students and all of our staff that really is going to be a team effort,” Angela Pruitt, Cheif Human Resource Officer for Lee County School District.

The district says there’s no guarantee that they will accommodate teachers who have underlying conditions or simply do not feel comfortable returning to class. That will be determined based on how many students return to school and how many decide to learn virtually. Teachers will still have to come to school if they are teaching from Lee Connect.

There will also be an established hotline for teachers to anonymously report anyone who is not following safety guidelines.

Parents’ decision to enroll their children in school or choose one of the remote learning options must be submitted by Thursday, July 30. Pruitt said ideally, the goal is to develop master schedule of just Lee Home Connect and then of face to face students. But there could be times where the schedule doesn’t allow that.

Jeff Shapiro, Chief Academic Officer for Lee School District said “Whenever you delay the start, it typically pushes into next summer. Last time this happened we had shortened summer. But ultimately, it is up to the calendar committee.”

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