Orange County advisory board: Delay face-to-face school for middle- and high-school students

The School Board of Orange County Medical Advisory Committee was created to advise the School Board on best practices for reopening schools.

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The School Board of Orange County Medical Advisory Committee, created to advise the School Board of Orange County regarding best practices for operating schools during the COVID-19 pandemic, recommends delaying face-to-face instruction for middle- and high-school students.

The committee issued this and other recommendations Friday, Aug. 14. The Orange County School Board will meet today to discuss these recommendations and possible changes to the district's reopening plan.

Dr. Vincent Hsu, committee chair, said of the recommendations:

• We do not recommend changing the opening face-to-face date (Friday, Aug. 21) for children enrolled in elementary schools or voluntary pre-kindergarten programs. 

• We recommend the School Board consider delaying the start date for face-to-face instruction to Monday, Aug. 31, for middle schools and high schools due to the higher potential for transmission and a potentially more complicated contact tracing process. Delaying the start date allows time for further reduction in community spread and to assess the experience and resources needed in the event of a potential transmission event in one of the lower grades. 

• We recommend the following be implemented when starting face-to-face instruction or as soon as possible thereafter (this supplements the COVID-19 Health and Safety Manual): mandatory use of face masks for all students, allowing for only very rare exceptions that must be approved by the OCPS medical officer; comprehensive training in basic principles of infection control including use of personal protective equipment for teachers and staff with the curriculum to be approved by the Florida Department of Health in Orange County; implementation of a process that prioritizes rapid access to timely testing and contact tracing, coordinating through FDOH; and implementation of appropriate measures for the safety of staff.



Michael Eng

As a child, Editor and Publisher Michael Eng collected front pages of the Kansas City Star during Operation Desert Storm, so it was a foregone conclusion that he would pursue a career in journalism. He holds a journalism degree from the University of Missouri — Columbia School of Journalism. When he’s not working, you can find him spending time with his wife and three children, or playing drums around town. He’s also a sucker for dad jokes.