Polk County Public Schools’ new COVID-19 dashboard shows that 11,163 students and 323 staff have had to quarantine during the last two weeks. Quarantined students without access to digital devices and wifi are having difficulty keeping up with classwork, the head of the teachers’ union tells News Channel 8. | View the dashboard More
A preliminary report of COVID-19 cases in Polk public schools released Friday shows that 1,170 students and 297 staff have been reported as positive for the virus since Aug. 2. In addition, 8,228 students and 223 staff have quarantined after exposure to infected individuals. More
Masks remain optional in Polk public schools. Polk School Board members heard passionate debate from both sides of the mask debate on Tuesday, but did not vote on the issue. Vice Chair Kay Fields tried to make a motion for an emergency mask mandate, but Chair Lori Cunningham ended the meeting without calling for a second, The Ledger reported. Earlier in the meeting, Superintendent Frederick Heid said a new COVID-19 dashboard with real-time data is coming to the school district’s web site; the current dashboard has been criticized for lags in updating data.
Citing rising public concern about school safety as COVID numbers increase, Polk School Board Vice Chair Kay Field has called for the board to consider a 30-day mask requirement. She also says that her three requests to hold a special School Board meeting to discuss safety concerns have been ignored. More
Starting Friday, students and staff at South McKeel Academy, a charter elementary school, will be required to wear masks indoors and on school buses for two weeks. Students at a sister elementary, McKeel Academy Central, will also be required to wear masks while riding school buses. Alan Black, director of schools for The Schools of McKeel Academy, told The Ledger that an increase in COVID-19 cases led to the new policy, but he did not say how many students were affected.
Local medical professionals say the science shows that children should mask up in schools to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but Polk School Superintendent Fred Heid said his hands are tied by the state, News Channel 8 reports. Polk’s school district has no plans to defy Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order on masks, as other districts have done, Heid said during a virtual news conference Friday. MORE: News conference video | Fox 13 News | 10 Tampa Bay | ABC Action News | The Ledger
With public school classes starting Tuesday, several campuses in Lakeland are getting new principals and assistant principals. They include: More
Polk County has 21 public schools on the list of 149 struggling schools in Florida that will share $44 million in federal United School Improvement Grant funds, The Ledger reported. Only Hillsborough County has more: 30. Lakeland schools on the list include Crystal Lake, Dixieland, Griffin, Jesse Keen, Oscar J. Pope, Phillip O’Brien and Tenoroc. MORE: Governor’s announcement | List of Florida schools getting grants