WALTON COUNTY Fla. (WMBB) — After the first week of school, there were over 300 students and staff in quarantine across 22 schools.
Parents are showing their concern through various social media pages but officials said they will be adding to their COVID protocol to ensure safety stays a priority.
“And in only eight days this is where we are at,” said Concerned parent Brooke Brown.
Brown is worried about the rise in school positivity rates. Her son is a junior at Freeport High School. Just in the first eight days of the school year, 322 were in quarantine due to exposure.
“That is alarming that you had perfectly healthy children prior to that going to school,” said Brown.
Walton Superintendent Russell Hughes currently does a bi-weekly COVID update, but with the increase in cases is looking to change that to weekly. He has also added more safety protocols.
“We are going to restrict the people that we are letting into our bubble, and I am letting principals decide on those people,” said Hughes. “Those things are not pertinent.”
Masking is not mandatory but is strongly encouraged. Hughes said parents need to discuss options with their students.
“Or if you are concerned about covid being spread in schools, wear a mask, said Hughes. “That is up to every parent. We can’t do what is now known as mask harassment, we are not going to do it, we are going to leave it up to parents and students, and we need your help.”
When it comes to staff and teachers, Walton School Safety Specialist Charlie Morse said they are essential workers.
“Homeland security gave us a clause in 2020 that stated for essential workers, if they’re in close proximity then they could stay if they had no symptoms,” said Morse.
For students who are told to quarantine, they can return to school if they show a negative rapid test after a few days, or are asymptomatic on day eight.
“We understand that a child’s education is most important but their safety is even more important than that,” said Morse.
If you are a concerned parent or guardian, visit the Walton County School District website for more information on safety.