Alachua County Public Schools is committed to providing students with a high-quality education while promoting health and safety in our schools. To that end, the district has been working closely with the Alachua County Health Department and the Scientific Medical Advisory Council, which is made up of medical experts from the University of Florida, on strategies and protocols aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19 in our schools and worksites.The documents on this page will be updated as needed to reflect new medical guidance, changes in the course of the virus and other information.
Families have a critical role to play in preventing the spread of COVID on our campuses and in our community. Students who have symptoms or have had significant exposure to a positive COVID-19 case MUST REMAIN AT HOME to protect them and the health and safety of fellow students and staff.
Thank you for doing your part to protect our students and staff.
As we transition into the second semester this spring, a new COVID-19 Response Team has been established to assess, improve, and sustain the COVID-19 prevention efforts in Alachua County Public Schools.
Superintendent Carlee Simon officially introduced the team at the January 19th School Board meeting, where they shared a report on their completed and ongoing projects, and an outline of their upcoming actions to address the unmet needs of students, staff, and families during the coronavirus pandemic.
Jason Stanford, a teacher from Hawthorne Middle/High School and former CDC Public Health Analyst, will lead the team’s Program Evaluation and Accountability initiatives. Prescott Cowles, a science teacher from Hillsborough County and former Program Director at Camp Crystal Lake, will develop the district’s Communication and Community Engagement strategy for COVID-19.
Explore the COVID Response Team page to catch up on the team’s first board report, watch the full video of the team’s presentation, and learn more about each member’s experience and ongoing efforts.
Alachua County Public Schools is advised on our COVID-19 protocols for schools by the Scientific Medical Advisory Committee (SMAC), a group of medical professionals from the University of Florida specializing in public health, pediatrics, and infectious diseases.
The Superintendent recently asked SMAC for guidance on the district's COVID-19 protocols for winter and spring athletics events. The group shared their recommendations, which were developed into a set of enforceable guidelines in collaboration with the principals and athletic directors of every high school in Alachua County.
These guidelines became effective January 19, 2021, and will be revised based on SMAC’s further recommendations.
Spring Planning Survey for Staff & Teachers
The COVID-19 Response Team has created a short survey to help gather information about the real experience of staff and teachers in our school district during the first semester. The effort and expertise of our frontline teachers and staff have been critical to our successes against many challenges we have faced this year, and their honest feedback will help us improve moving forward.
The responses to this survey will provide direction as we revise our distance learning and COVID-19 prevention strategies from the first semester, and as we allocate new resources to address the unmet needs of our staff and students.
The survey responses will be directed to our new COVID-19 Response Team, and anonymously shared with school and district administrators to help inform their planning for the rest of the year. A summary of the responses will be shared with the entire ACPS community as an overall “progress report” from the first semester.
Coming Soon: Site Visits and Strategy Support
The COVID Response Team will begin conducting walkthrough site visits to all campuses and worksites throughout the district as early as this week. The visits will help assess and communicate the effectiveness of the COVID-19 prevention strategies that have been implemented this year, and provide guidance and support to school leaders and staff on public health best practices.
The Team is finalizing guidance for principals and site-based administrators on what to expect during these visits, which will last approximately two hours, and include a walkthrough/tour of the campus, interviews with administrative staff, and conversations with teachers and support staff.
The visits and guidance are being developed to align with the Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Capabilities from the CDC’s Center for Preparedness and Response, in a way that is practicable and feasible for our schools.
500+ ACPS employees and retirees get COVID-19 vaccine
The Alachua County Health Department and UF Health have teamed up to offer COVID-19 vaccination clinics for eligible employees and retirees of Alachua County Public Schools.
So far, 503 have received the first round of their COVID-19 vaccine at these drive-through clinics, including 121 employees ages 65 and over, 39 healthcare-related employees, and 343 ACPS retirees. School nurses and health techs received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine earlier this month.
The clinics have been limited by the restrictions set by Governor Ron DeSantis in Executive Order 20-315, which mandates that providers can only administer the COVID-19 vaccine to certain groups.
While there are not any additional clinics scheduled at this time, the Superintendent and COVID Response Team continue to advocate for vaccine access for all employees, and are preparing to scale up the distribution process with our partners when that becomes a reality.
This week, Alachua County Commission Chair Ken Cornell will host a one-hour telephone town hall at 7 p.m. Monday, January 25, 2021, to discuss the safety, efficacy, and distribution of coronavirus vaccines in our community. Joining Chair Cornell will be City of Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe, Florida Department of Health Director Paul Myers, University of Florida Senior Vice President for Health Affairs and President of UF Health Dr. David Nelson, North Florida Regional Medical CEO Eric Lawson, and North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System Director Tom Wisnieski.
Spotlight on Mental Health Resources
We know that this year has been unlike any other. Many children and teens are experiencing a high level of trauma, stress, anxiety or sadness. However you are feeling, you are not alone, and there is help in our community for you, your friend or your child.
If you’re in crisis, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 at any time to speak to someone and get support.