Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Mask rules in school will not change this school year

The Monroe County School District received a communication from the Florida Department of Education Monday evening which clarifies recent executive orders about the wearing of masks issued by the state of Florida, EO-21-101 and EO-21-102.

According to the FLDOE:

"Questions have arisen over the impacts of the Executive Orders EO-21-101, which is not effective until July 1, 2021, and EO-21-102, which is effective immediately.

"To clarify, EO-21-102 only impacts city and county governments, and does NOT impact school districts and individual schools.Moreover, EO-21-101 and EO-21-102 only impacts restrictive COVID-19 orders/ordinances that are adopted through emergency enactment.

"Neither EO-21-101 nor EO-21-102 impact any school district’s policies for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year."

The Monroe County School District has received questions about it's policy requiring masks at all district buildings and activities. This policy has not changed and will remain in place until at least the end of the 2020-2021 school year.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Schools, Health Department work together to vaccinate students

The Monroe County Health Department can procure adequate does of the Pfizer vaccine to vaccinate all Monroe County youth ages 16 and up. If you are interested in receiving the vaccine for your student, please fill out our survey by clicking on the link below this message. We will be announcing sites based on your needs. A parent must be present for students under 18 who receive the vaccine. Appointments will be made for your convenience. We are excited about providing this opportunity to students. Thank you for your attention.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

State waives some course requirements due to pandemic

High school seniors in Florida will be able to graduate this year and 3rd graders can move on without passing the normally required state assessments, according to the Florida Department of Education Emergency Order 2021-EO-02 signed Friday by Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran.

Corcoran signed the new emergency order Friday addressing a wide range of pandemic-related setbacks students have faced over the past school year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The order empowers local school districts to make exceptions when it comes to graduation and promotion issues. It also allows schools themselves to maintain their pre-pandemic grades unless a district applies to the Department of Education to have one or more 2020-2021 school grades recorded.

Some of the key components include:

The district can waive the required state assessments for graduating seniors, if the district determines on a case-by-case basis that the student’s high school record establishes that all other graduation requirements have been met.

Third grade students may still be promoted to the fourth grade regardless of their score on the English Language Arts (ELA) assessment, provided that the student is performing at least at Level 2 through the good cause exemption process or other local assessments. Select students will be invited to participate in summer learning to further mitigate learning loss experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Details about Monday's return to school


Full-time in-person learning starts Monday for those students who have opted to return. Some students will remain on the A/B schedule they have been on all school year and some will return to the classroom. Here are a few details:

  • Those students who opted to return to the classroom every day will report first thing Monday morning. Welcome back! 

  • All students should make sure to wear masks while in school or on the bus. We will be continuing to encourage frequent hand washing, sanitizing and social distancing of at least three feet, per the new CDC guidance published on Friday, and more if at all possible.

  • Those students who opted to remain on an A/B schedule will continue on the same schedule they were on before Spring Break.

  • A reminder: if there is a possibility you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus over Spring Break, either through travel or through contact with an infected individual, please follow CDC guidance and make sure you test negative and/or appropriately quarantine before returning to school.

  • All students - on an A/B schedule or returning full-time - will receive 5 full days of instruction and will be expected to be in attendance those 5 full days, either at home or in-person.

  • Bus routes will remain the same for now but may be altered in the future if necessary to ensure safe distancing.

  • Lunch schedules will remain the same and will continue to be free of charge through the end of the school year.

We look forward to seeing our students sitting in classrooms once again! We will need everyone’s cooperation in making sure we keep our schools safe during this transition and for the rest of the school year.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Update: Return to full-time school option will begin March 29th; Parents are asked to fill out school attendance survey

Upate, March 16th: this survey is now closed to further participation. If you have questions about the return to full-time in person learning, please contact your child's school.

Important Note: Please complete our short survey my Monday, March 14th at 10 a.m.

The survey link is: https://keysschools.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_29b00jyPkzUXqMS

Beginning March 29th, directly following Spring Break, the Monroe County School District will begin offering the option of full-time in person classes for all public school students. This option is being offered in response to a mandate from the State of Florida Commissioner of Education.

“My priority has always been to return all our students to full-time in-person classes. To that end, we have continually consulted local health officials about when it would be safe to do so. We have not done this before because issues of community spread and juvenile transmission rates have dictated otherwise,” said Superintendent Theresa Axford. “Those factors are still issues in Monroe County and remain issues for our district,” she said.

“While we will do our best to make this a safe transition, please be aware we may have difficulty ensuring students maintain a safe distance from one another while they are attending classes in-person,”  said Superintendent Theresa Axford. “Students, staff and visitors will still be required to wear masks and we will continue to emphasize the importance of hand-washing and sanitizing at all times.”

For planning purposes, the school district is asking all parents of public school students in grades 6 - 12 to complete a survey letting them know what they plan to do when it comes to their child’s attendance at school. Options on the survey will include remaining on an A/B schedule for the rest of the school year or sending their child back to full-time school for the rest of the school year. If a child is currently attending full-time virtual school, they will have the option to continue for the remainder of the year or to return to full-time in-person classes. 

Parents are asked to visit the District website, keysschools.com, to take this survey, which will be available in English, Spanish and Creole. If a parent needs a paper copy of the survey, they will be available at all county public schools with grades 6 - 12.

The survey link is: https://keysschools.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_29b00jyPkzUXqMS

The district is currently working on a new busing schedule and will announce that on the district website, in local media and on social media sites as soon as it is finalized.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Monroe County Schools to Offer Option of Five Day In-Person Schooling

Monroe County School District administrators are putting together plans for a return to face-to-face instruction for all students sometime in the month of March. The move comes after an order from the Commissioner of Education to do so as soon as possible. An internal email has already been sent to all employees so preparation for this new option can begin.

“We are working out the details of how to do this as safely and quickly as we can,” said Superintendent Theresa Axford. “Distancing will definitely be the most difficult issue we will deal with. Masks, hand washing, sanitizing, and all the other safety measures currently in place will, of course, remain as crucial parts of our safe return to school.”

School Board Chair John Dick said the move to full time school for all who prefer it is being made in consultation with the state and in compliance with Education Order 2020-EO-07.

The start date is still pending and will be announced as soon as possible after details are worked out. Parents will still have the option of keeping their older students who are currently on an A/B schedule on that schedule if they wish to do so. 

A survey is being put together and will be sent out to parents to complete. The survey will be available on line as well as on paper. Superintendent Axford encourages parents to fill it out as quickly as possible once it is available so the district will know how many kids intend to remain on alternating days and how many will be in the classroom. The survey is not available yet. When it is, the district will make an automated call to parents, as well as posting the information on the web site and on social media pages.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Reminder: Keep Covid out of our schools; please don’t travel over spring break

The Monroe County School District appreciates everyone’s cooperation during this school year with all our efforts to keep students and staff safe. In keeping with those efforts, we would ask everyone to avoid unnecessary travel over the upcoming Spring Break holiday, which begins March 22nd. 

“It is particularly crucial that everyone stay home and stay safe because we have important academic testing when students return. If a student travels and, upon return, has to go through the process of covid testing and reducing contact with others, it may have an impact on their ability to test and may mean participating in make-up testing instead,” said Superintendent Theresa Axford.

The CDC recommends:

  • Getting tested  for Covid 3-5 days after travel AND staying home and self-quarantining for a full 7 days after travel. 

  • Even if you test negative, they recommend you stay home and self-quarantine for the full 7 days. 

  • If your test is positive, they recommend isolating yourself to protect others from getting infected. 

  • If you don’t get tested, they recommend you stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel. 

  • They also say you should avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.

The health department is particularly concerned right now. While the Monroe County School District has one of the lowest pediatric positivity rates in Florida, there has recently been an uptick in juvenile cases in the county. The rate in the county has gone from 5.8% in January to 7.7% in February. In addition, the health department says there has been a recent increase in cases of the United Kingdom (UK) variant of the disease in Monroe County. This variant has been shown to spread more rapidly through communities where it has been detected. This makes it even more important to stay home and avoid unnecessary contacts with others.

If you do decide to go somewhere outside the county over Spring Break, the District asks that you follow the CDC guidance and keep your child home for the requisite period. An absence under these circumstances will be considered an excused absence and the student will be able to continue to attend classes virtually. Contact your particular school to let them know the circumstances and to find out how to keep up with classwork while at home during this time period.

For information about local testing availability and other Monroe County resources, please visit the Monroe County Health Department’s website at: http://monroe.floridahealth.gov/covid19.

Below is the actual CDC guidance (updated February 18, 2021) for those who choose to travel domestically:

You may have been exposed to COVID-19 on your travels. You may feel well and not have any symptoms, but you can be contagious without symptoms and spread the virus to others. You and your travel companions (including children) pose a risk to your family, friends, and community for 14 days after you travel.

  • Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel.

    • Even if you test negative, stay home and self-quarantine for the full 7 days.

    • If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.

  • If you don’t get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.

  • Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.

Follow all state and local recommendations or requirements after travel.

Also, take these actions after you return from travel to protect others from getting COVID-19:

  • Avoid crowds and stay at least 6 feet/2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) from anyone who did not travel with you. It’s important to do this everywhere — both indoors and outdoors.

  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth when in public settings. Masks are required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.

  • If there are people in the household who did not travel with you, wear a mask and ask everyone in the household to wear masks in shared spaces inside your home for 14 days after travel.

  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

  • Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness.

  • Watch your health: Look for symptoms of COVID-19.

Getting tested after travel is especially important if you did any of these activities that put you at higher risk for COVID-19:

  • Going to a large social gathering like a wedding, funeral, or party.

  • Attending a mass gathering like a sporting event, concert, or parade.

  • Being in crowds like in restaurants, bars, fitness centers, or movie theaters.

  • Taking public transportation like planes, trains or buses or being in transportation hubs like airports.

  • Traveling on a cruise ship or riverboat.