PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — At Wiregrass Elementary School, kids arrived with masks on and ready to learn after a longer than normal layoff.
It was the same scene with the older students at John Long Middle School also in Wesley Chapel.
“I was very, very pleased to see the kids in their masks, not bellyaching about it. It’s like putting on a shirt, you put on a mask,” said Superintendent Kurt Browning.
The Pasco School District is hoping all the safety protocols they put in place, will prevent any major outbreaks.
About 40% of students are using one of the online learning options. The rest are back in classrooms.
“My goal is to keep staff at work and keep kids in school,” said Browing.
Meanwhile, staff from the school district and the health department are teamed up at what they are calling the COVID command center.
“It’s much easier just to take the information, walk it over to a desk and be able to hand it to the health department so they can work on it immediately,” said Lisa Kern, Pasco County School District Health Services Supervisor.
The goal is to be transparent and get information on positive cases back to schools and parents.
Parents can often expect an automated phone call if there are positive cases.
The district is also working on speeding up testing, so students and staff can find out results in 24 hours.
Positive cases could lead to other students being forced to quarantine at home.
“I believe that we’ve put everything that we possibly can in place to try and keep everyone as safe as we possibly can,” said Kern.
COVID-19 has affected thousands in Pasco County. One teacher died from the virus and even the superintendent himself had it.
“It’s a pretty wicked virus. I’ve never been as sick as I was with COVID,” said Browning.