PANAMA CITY, FLA. (WMBB) — Some parents of students throughout the Bay District School system are wary of sending their students back to school, as COVID-19 cases continue to rise throughout the county. Last week, 1,615 Bay County residents tested positive for the virus, with 30.8 percent of those tested, testing positive.
“I would request that Bay District Schools implement some form of social distancing for the children in the classroom,” Jennifer Owen, a parent of three at Deer Point Elementary School said. “Which I know right now they’re not practicing. Which I know is hard for the teachers because the class sizes are only so big.”
While Owen would have been in favor of Bay District Schools delaying the start of the school year by two weeks, school officials said that was not feasible.
“All the studies show that students are safer and better off in school than they are sitting at home behind the screen or just being by themselves.” Superintendent Bill Husfelt said. “They need that socialization.”
Classrooms are fuller than they were last year, creating fewer opportunities for teachers to socially distance students.
While BDS staff are required to wear masks for the next two weeks, there is no such policy for students when they are in enclosed spaces and unable to social distance.
Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order, mandating that parents maintain the choice to choose whether or not their student wears a mask. If a district does not comply with that order, they risk losing state funding.
“I totally agree with the Governor that that needs to be a parent decision,” Husfelt said. “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 own children.”