STUART, Fla. — Summer vacation is over and it's back to school for teachers and students in Martin County.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, all schools throughout the county have new safety protocols and procedures in place for the 2020-21 academic year.
"None of us have ever experienced this before. There's no playbook on this," Supintendent Laurie Gaylord said Tuesday on the first day of school.
According to school district spokeswoman Jennifer DeShazo, students' desks are being spaced out by at least 6 feet, everyone must wear face coverings on school campuses, and there are arrows in hallways to direct students.
Gaylord said she visited seven school campuses Tuesday, and only two students showed up without masks.
"Obviously, we have plenty of masks available, and so those students were provided a mask," Gaylord said.
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SPECIAL SECTION: Back to School
The Martin County School District has developed a clinic for students who are experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19.
In the event that a student becomes sick during the day, he or she would be sent to the clinic and parents will be called to pick them up. Students must then stay home and quarantine for a minimum of two weeks.
"If it does happen for say, a classroom that a student tests positive and we have to shut the classroom down from the other students, they can transition to the remote learning," Gaylord said. "We do case-by-cases, working with the health department and looking at that, each and every case."
The Martin County School District has invested more than $2 million in personal protective equipment, which includes face masks, hand sanitizer, and cleaning supplies.
"We've purchased hand sanitizer. We've purchased cleaner. We have electrostatic sprayers for every school where custodians and plant operators can go in very quickly and spray down an entire classroom or building with chemicals design to treat COVID-19," DeShazo said. "We've got teacher kits if they want to clean more frequently than the custodians are able to get in there during the day."
The district has also purchased thermometers for teachers, faculty, and staff in the event that child becomes sick and there's a need to check his or her temperature.
Gaylord said 38% of students in the Martin County School District have opted for virtual learning to start the school year, but they can switch to traditional in-classroom learning down the road.
"When they see how things progress here in these next few weeks, I think we will have people that may choose to be able to say, OK, I want my student to be back in class with a teacher," Gaylord said.