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Broward County Public Schools Preparations for Returning from Winter Break

Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) continues to closely monitor local COVID-19 conditions and follow the guidance of the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) to ensure the health and safety of students and employees. Due to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases during the holidays driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant, the BCPS School Board will hold an emergency school board meeting on Friday, December 31, 2021 at 1:30 p.m. to review and possibly revise Policy #2170 for employees, vendors and visitors. The revision under consideration could result in the requirement for employees, vendors and visitors to wear face coverings while indoors at any District school, facility or vehicle beginning Monday, January 3, 2022. The meeting will be livestreamed at www.becon.tv/live-stream.

Per state law that went into effect on November 18, 2021, school districts are prohibited from requiring students to wear face coverings. However, BCPS highly encourages students to wear face coverings as a mitigating factor to help control the spread of the Omicron variant. Parents, guardians and caregivers are urged to send their children to school wearing face coverings. BCPS is also asking that if children are ill, exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, or have been exposed to COVID-19 to please keep their children home and contact us during normal school hours.

The new state law that went into effect on November 18, 2021, contains very specific language regarding face covering usage requirements for students and quarantine requirements for students and employees. The law also has financial penalties when districts do not follow the requirements, including school districts incurring attorney fees and court costs for parents who bring legal action against the district and prevail. Effective this school year, school districts cannot provide intermittent virtual school options to students due to the Florida Department of Education’s emergency orders expiring this past summer. The new law and expiration of the intermittent virtual education option are state actions that the District or School Board cannot modify.

Just as multiple organizations and businesses are being highly impacted with staffing due to the current COVID-19 variant, BCPS may experience similar concerns. During this time, families should be aware that there may be delays in student transportation, and schools may have to adjust daily schedules and operations to accommodate staffing requirements. We greatly appreciate our families and employees for their understanding and grace.

BCPS protocols for cleaning classrooms and common areas including sanitization and cleaning cycles will be maintained. The District will continue to work with local health officials, and follow guidance from the CDC as it evaluates and adjusts COVID-19 health and safety protocols. In addition, social distancing, COVID-19 testing and vaccinations will continue to be encouraged. BCPS is greatly appreciative of the partnership with the Florida Department of Health – Broward (FDOH-Broward.) The organization recently provided at-home COVID-19 test kits for BCPS staff, which are being disseminated on January 1 and 2 to employees prior to the beginning of school.

In partnership with the FDOH-Broward, Broward County Public Schools is offering a K-12 COVID-19 testing program for students. The test will only be administered with parental consent. Consent forms may be accessed at https://www.browardschools.com/Page/64812, on each school's website, or a paper copy from the child's school. The tests are administered by certified health care professionals. Additionally, students must have a parent-signed school health services consent form on file and a parent-signed testing consent form on file to be tested at school.

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ABOUT BROWARD COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS “Committed to educating all students to reach their highest potential.”

Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) is the sixth-largest school district in the nation and the second largest in the state of Florida. The District is Florida’s first fully accredited school system since 1962 and has nearly 261,000 pre-K-12th grade students and approximately 110,000 adult students in 241 schools, centers, and technical colleges, and 92 charter schools. BCPS serves a diverse student population, representing 170 different countries and 147 different languages. To connect with BCPS, visit browardschools.com, follow on Twitter @browardschools and Facebook at facebook.com/browardschools, and download the free BCPS mobile app.