Here’s what Seminole County schools are doing to keep students safe during the pandemic

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — With less than a day from Seminole County students returning to school, several changes have been made in the name of student safety.

Starting Tuesday, students will be asked to mask up for class from the moment they step on the school bus. Parents do have the option to opt out of the requirement.

Seminole County school district buses may be returning back to full capacity, but most COVID-19 guidelines are here to stay a while.

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Visitors will not be allowed on any school campus for the first two weeks.

For the first 30 days of class, every student and staff member is expected to wear a mask the entire time they’re on the bus or anywhere on campus.

Disposable masks will be available on each bus if requested.

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The only way a student can leave the face coverings at home is if they bring a signed note from a parent exempting them from the requirement.

“I believe in masking as a defense,” said Dan Smith, Seminole Education Association president. “I don’t think it’s a great defense, but it’s what we have right now and I do think children should be in school so I’m glad to see that.”

Teachers, on the other hand, don’t have an option. They must mask up or face losing their jobs.

They don’t, however, have to disclose whether they’re vaccinated or not.

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They are not obligated to tell,” Smith said. “I suspect teachers won’t have the discussion only because it’s a topic you want to avoid with parents and students.”

If a vaccinated teacher comes into contact with someone who has COVID-19 but doesn’t show any symptoms, they do not have to quarantine.

The district said it hopes students use the precautions in place to keep COVID-19 away from the classroom.

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Leaders said bus drivers will also be sanitizing their vehicles between routes to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The district has also made several physical changes for student safety on buses. Each bus now has seat belts and shoulder straps, along with video cameras and GPS tracking.

Katlyn Brieskorn, WFTV.com

Katlyn Brieskorn is a Digital Assignment Editor at WFTV. She joined Channel 9 in July 2019.