School district officials discuss COVID-19 protocols before the first day of school

Published: Aug. 9, 2021 at 6:41 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Several school districts will be opening their doors for students on August 10 for the first day of school.

Bay District Schools is not requiring students to wear masks, adults, and employees within the district must mask up for at least the next two weeks.

“We know it’s a hard, tough decision, and so nobody wants it. I don’t want to wear a mask. One of the main reasons I got the vaccine was so I never have to wear a mask,” Bay District Schools Superintendent Bill Husfelt said.

Superintendent Husfelt said if employees who are wearing masks test positive for COVID or should they be required to quarantine, they will get paid leave between now and August 24.

“We don’t want the virus to keep spreading. We don’t want our children to get it. We don’t want our employees to get it. This is just one little step that we’re trying to take in addition to the other things we’re trying to do,” Husfelt said.

Hiland Park Elementary School is allowing parents to walk their kids to the doorway on the first day.

“After that, our campus will be closed to parents for the next two weeks until we receive further guidance from the superintendent and the board,” Ilea Faircloth, the Highland Park Principal said.

Down the road in Walton County, Superintendent Russell Hughes tells NewsChannel 7 masks are optional for students and employees.

“We’re gonna highly encourage everyone, when they can’t social distance, to do what they need to do to stay safe. Stay home if you are sick. I want parents to talk to their children about masking if they need to,” Hughes said.

The current mask requirement for BDS employees will be through August 24. Then, school board members will assess the most recent COVID-19 case update to decide what to do next.

One school within the BDS school district will not be starting school on August 10. Monday the Margaret K. Lewis School announced on Facebook they would not be opening their doors to students on Tuesday.

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Superintendent Husfelt said there were about a dozen staff members currently quarantined. They will start school on Monday, August 16.

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