Children in Manatee County head back to school Monday

Coronavirus

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Monday is the first day of school for students in Manatee County.

The Manatee County School District is the first in Tampa Bay to open since schools abruptly closed in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

School officials say they have been working nonstop to make sure students and staff are safe.

“We will be experiencing a year like we’ve never seen. You can’t even compare it to the fourth quarter because that was just an abrupt shut down. And of course now, we’re faced with moving forward as we should, but we know it’s going to be bumpy, and we’re going and we’re going to have to address things as they come our way,” said Manatee Schools Superintendent Cynthia Saunders.

Students and staff will be required to wear masks, but will get masks breaks that come with social distancing requirements.

Buses will be cleaned twice each day between routes.

Everyone will be asked questions crafted by the CDC each day before they can enter the building, the district said. The district also has a command center staffed with an epidemiologist.

“We have a full-time epidemiologist staffed to us from the health department. We also have a full-time nurse from the health department that will be helping us with any contact tracing, keeping a pulse on what’s going on in terms of student perspective, employee perspective, and just being available to answer questions,” said Saunders. “We have a tracking system in place for all students, for all school employees, with HIPPA compliance, so that any one time if it rises up to where we have situations or infections that we need to be alerted on a daily basis, we will and can be, and we can take appropriate action.”

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