Walton County schools are experiencing some challenges after the first week back


WALTON COUNTY Fla. (WMBB) — It has been over a week since students returned to class, and the unknown has been challenging.

Walton County Superintendent Russell Hughes said it has been a phenomenal reopening despite some uncertainty.

“Now the challenge has been what we don’t know,” said Hughes.

Hughes said there have been three people in the school system who have tested positive for COVID-19 but only one classroom has shut down at this time.

“But we are really putting in a lot of practices, to make sure when it surfaces, and it’s going to, and it has. We are going to make sure we mitigate the outbreak or the spread of it,” said Hughes.

Hughes said once they know of a COVID exposure, they use contact tracing methodology immediately.

With constant readjusting due to COVID-19, Hughes and his principals could not be more proud.

“The first day of school I was amazed,” said the Principal at Monte Saunders elementary school in DeFuniak Springs, Cindy Neale.

Neale said she was emotional once she saw her elementary students’ faces this past week. Well, most of their faces. About 98% of them were wearing masks.

“Parents have done just a wonderful job in preparing their students, with the masks,” said Neale.

Neale said before reopened school doors, she told her staff to compare themselves to, Play-Do.

“This Play-Do represents how we are going to have to be pliable, we are going to have to be flexible and we are going to have to stretch,” said Neale.

After a judge sided with the Florida Education Association’s lawsuit against Governor Ron DeSantis Monday, Hughes said all Walton schools have had to become pliable. But safety is always their priority.

Hughes said a mandatory mask mandate might not be off the table yet for his schools. If it means to keep students safe, that might become an option if more positive tests do show up within Walton County schools.

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