WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The School District of Palm Beach County said on a news release Tuesday evening that the district is experiencing staff shortages associated with the Omicron surge. The announcement comes shortly before students return to class after the winter break.
The district said the potential heightened staffing shortages will likely have a noticeable impact on the delivery of education and support services, including student transportation.
"Our school principals, teachers, and support staff have proved to be resilient and adept at shifting resources to meet the needs of our students throughout this pandemic," the district said. "The School District is working diligently to manage these challenges and appreciates your cooperation and understanding as we work hard to minimize disruptions."
All school district employees, vendors and visitors are required to wear facial coverings while indoors.
"This decision was not made lightly, but based on what health officials consider a best practice for the safety of our staff," the district said. "Legally, the district is also prohibited from mandating facial coverings for students, however, masks will continue to be highly encouraged as this practice provides an additional layer of protection against COVID-19."
The need for facial coverings for employees will be re-evaluated in two weeks, according to the superintendent.
"The School District will continue to remain vigilant with all of the other COVID-19 transmission mitigation strategies that we have had in place throughout the pandemic, including the use of MERV-13 air filters, portable HEPA air purification units in classrooms and clinics, enhanced cleaning, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer, and other measures."
On Tuesday, the CDC updated its recommendation for when specific groups are eligible to receive a booster shot, shortening the interval from six months to five months for those who received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine.
"Parents and guardians, we implore you to keep students home if they are not feeling well and experiencing any potential COVID-19 symptoms. A student who tests positive must stay home for 10 days and be symptom-free, or have a negative COVID-19 test, or have a return to school note from a licensed healthcare professional," the district added.
For an updated list of testing and vaccination sites located throughout the county, click here.