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Students and staff return to Sarasota County Schools amid concerns over COVID-19

COVID concerns as students and staff return to Sarasota County schools.
COVID concerns as students and staff return to Sarasota County schools.(WWSB)
Published: Jan. 11, 2022 at 10:50 PM EST
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Students and staff are now back in school in Sarasota County after winter break. The school district says despite a surge in COVID-19 cases, it’s business as usual with in-person learning and it will remain that way.

“The most important thing right now is that we’re doing everything possible to keep everybody as safe as possible,” said Craig Maniglia, director of communications for the Sarasota County School District. “We are social distancing whenever we can, we are cleaning high-touch points; extra cleaning crews are in the schools.”

Masks remain optional and vaccinations are not required.

But there are some who are pushing to have kids go back to virtual learning until the current COVID situation improves.

“The reality is that you either prevent thousands of infections by going remote now or you’re going to have people sick,” said Robin Taub Williams, with Protect Our Public Schools Manasota. “You’re going to have staffing issues very shortly because everybody’s going to be getting sick with this.”

On the other hand, local members of the conservative Moms for America group says they are happy that the school district will continue to give students and their parents control and flexibility, which includes going maskless.

“Most of all we just believe in freedom, freedom to choose, freedom to breathe without masks,” said Ali Looper, Melissa Radovich, and Tanya Parus. “That’s what we want our kids to do, just overall to not have any mandates.”

On Tuesday, the school district reported that around 200 teachers called out sick and at least 100 students, which they say is pretty typical, COVID-19 or not.

“With this variant, anytime you interrupt the educational process, it’s a detriment,” said Maniglia. “With that respect, it is quite concerning.”

The school district says there are COVID-19 testing sites available for students and staff. There are also at-home testing kits that are available in schools.

COVID information for the Sarasota County School District including their dashboard can be found by logging onto https://www.sarasotacountyschools.net/covid19.

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