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Lee County school superintendent talks about reopening plans

You’ve asked many questions about reopening schools, and we now have some answers from Southwest Florida’s largest school district.

One of the questions at the forefront of the topic is the issue of masks. Right now, the School District of Lee County’s back-to-school plan doesn’t mandate students wear them at all times, but Superintendent Greg Adkins said that could change.

What won’t change is the timetable parents have to decide whether you’ll send your kids to school or keep them home. That deadline is 8 p.m. July 26, even though the district plans to delay the start of school from Aug. 10 to Aug. 24 or Aug. 31.

Adkins said the deadline gives the district time to plan.

“We have to match those numbers up to make sure we have enough staff for students coming back,” he said.

As for mandating masks, Adkins brought up safety, going so far as to say he meets with the Department of Health regularly and talks about the possibility of not opening five days a week as the state’s commissioner of education ordered.

“Looking at the spread of the disease and developing decision-making trees, relative to whether we open full opening or if we have to open a different way.”

What happens when a teacher or student gets sick? Teachers will go home and students will go to an isolation room where they’ll wait for their parent to pick them up – but they won’t wait alone.

“We need that student away from that population. Well, we need staff to stay with that kid. So PPE for that person over and above what you would normally see,” Adkins explained.

What happens to teachers who either don’t want to return to school under these conditions or have underlying conditions?

Adkins said the district will work with them, but, “I have to be very clear though, we’re not in a situation where all teachers can just pick what their option would be.”

Adkins said the district has already spent $7 million just on personal protective equipment.

Reporter:Sydney Persing
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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