BDS addresses COVID policies after first day of school

Published: Aug. 10, 2021 at 9:07 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Local students picked up their pens, pencils, and possibly masks for the first day of school Tuesday.

School board members tell us they’re happy and excited with how the first day of school went.

We’re told Bay District Schools had a record number of students. A number they haven’t seen since before Hurricane Michael.

Officials said 21,000 students flooded into schools for the first day of school.

“Which is great. Growth is an awesome thing, we just need to be prepared as a school district,” Chairman Steve Moss said.

Some raised the question of whether the district should hold off on starting school.

“I’ve worked with the business community, I’ve worked with the hospitals, I’ve worked with the military, none of those groups said I should delay school,” Superintendent Bill Husfelt said.

Husfelt said it’s a rough estimate but about 30 to 50% of students opted to wear masks. Governor Ron Desantis left the decision of whether to wear a mask in school up to parents.

“Now, do I think kids should be wearing masks? It depends on their age, it depends on their health conditions, there’s a lot of parameters and parents need to make that call for their children,” said Husfelt.

However, employees do have to wear a mask. on Sunday, Husfelt mandated all employees are required to wear masks indoors or when they can’t social distance three feet. No visitors will be allowed on campus unless the principal deems it necessary. Other policies like quarantining after being within three feet of someone with COVID are still being upheld.

“We’ll always decide to err on the side of caution, especially when you’re dealing with students and minors,” Moss said.

Steve Moss said as chairman and parent, it’s hard to know who and what to believe.

“Doctors on both sides that say ‘masks work, no they don’t work, there is a surge, no there isn’t a surge, vaccinated, no don’t get vaccinated,’” said Moss.

And Husfelt says there are parents on both sides with opinions on how COVID policies should be handled at school.

“Here’s the problem, we can’t make a correct decision. We’ve got people upset we’re requiring masks, we have people upset we’re not requiring masks, we have people saying we shouldn’t start school, we have people saying start school, there is no right decision in this. There isn’t,” said Husfelt.

The school board hopes will keep all of their students safe.

Moss says there are no plans to bring back BayLink.

He said the board will decide if they want to continue or cancel the mask mandate for employees and visitors at the August 24th board meeting.

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