COVID-19 outbreak prompts private schools in Alachua County to make mask decision
With the sudden increase in COVID-19 cases and Alachua County being in a state of emergency, most private schools need masks, at least to start the school year.
The Gainesville Christian Community School doesn’t start until August 18, but the school plans to track what public schools in Alachua County do for the remainder of the school year.
Alachua County public school officials have issued a two-week mask warrant that will be reassessed on August 17. Her school year started on Monday.
Following:Florida school chief to investigate Alachua schools over mask rules
Superintendent’s Opinion:Universal masking promotes the health and safety of people inside and outside our school walls
James Schrader, principal of Gainesville Christian Community School, said if the public school system extended his mask tenure for an additional nine weeks or for the remainder of the semester, then his school would follow suit.
Cornerstone Academy also issued a two-week mask term that began on Tuesday and will be reassessed every two weeks during the school year.
“The speculation is that the peak of this will be August 23, and then once it is sort of [shows] as the peak goes back down, it just seems like it’s not as unmanageable at the hospital level, so we’ll probably start re-evaluating, ”said David Leino, director of Cornerstone.
Last year Cornerstone Academy had 147 students, and now there are 187, with parents still looking to enroll students. The school no longer accepts kindergarten, fifth, sixth or eighth grade students.
Oak Hall issued a mask warrant on August 6. For children who are in Kindergarten and Kindergarten – 4-year-olds – masking will remain optional, but encouraged while the students are indoors. The masking will remain at the choice of the parents.
However, for Kindergarten to Grade 12 students, masks are mandatory indoors, although students in Grades 7 to 12 can choose by submitting a form on the school’s COVID-19 webpage. .
Due to the lack of a vaccine available for K-6 students, Oak Hall has a flexible e-learning option that will be available until October 15, the end of the first term. Students in Grades 7 to 12 can only choose the online option if they are in quarantine.
Oak Hall communications director Corinna French said this summer the school had a record high enrollment. Currently, it has 768 students enrolled, with 145 new students this year. The school also has waiting lists for preschool, seventh and eighth grades.
French said she believed the increase in enrollment was due to the fact that it was an independently run school.
“We’re not really bound by what the governor has put in place for funding schools and with the Alachua County School Board deciding that their students should mask K-12 for the first two weeks, we did not apply these same [guidelines] to our community, so I feel like parents probably find it safe, ”French said.
When vaccines are available for children 11 and under, Oak Hall will lift its mask mandate 35 days later.
For the 2021-2022 school year Brentwood Academy, a private school for children in Kindergarten to Grade 5, masks are mandatory from Kindergarten to Grade 5.
Brentwood officials will continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19 in hopes of having indoor masks as an option. Children may choose not to wear a mask if parents provide a note from a pediatrician.
For private schools St. Patrick Interparish School and St. Francis Catholic Academy, masks are mandatory, but since transmission slows to less than 10%, the rule will likely be lifted.
PK Yonge of the University of Florida
PK Yonge, a K-12 school connected to the University of Florida, is not a private school, nor is it part of the Alachua County Public School District.
UF officials last Friday said masking was expected but not mandatory for their students, staff, vendors and visitors. This also applies to PK Yonge.
However, according to its plan to reopen, the PK Yonge community has a choice to make their own decisions about masks at school.