A letter from Polk School District Superintendent Laurie Atkins asks students to wear a mask for the first two weeks after returning to school following the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
The letter, posted on the school district website, notes that staff has noticed a slight increase in positive COVID-19 cases approximately ten days after returning from an extended break.
“This trend has been observed by other districts as well,” Atkins writes. “We cannot monitor where people go during their breaks, or who they are exposed to; however, in an effort to protect everyone, we are asking and strongly recommending that all students and employees wear a mask for the first two weeks after returning from Thanksgiving break and Christmas break.”
Polk County Schools returned to classes on Monday following a week-long break for Thanksgiving. Christmas break will be from Dec. 21 through Jan. 1.
Atkins writes that student and staff efforts to adhere to physical distancing, regular hand sanitization, thorough cleaning of schools, and altered lunch and class schedules have helped keep positive cases low in the school system.
“We are very thankful and blessed that our schools have had lower numbers of positive cases when compared to surrounding areas. I greatly appreciate the hard work and assistance our employees, parents and students have put forth to help us keep our schools open,” Atkins said.
The letter states that the district realizes some individuals may not be able to wear a mask due to certain health conditions and no one will be punished or criticized for not wearing a mask.
“However, if possible, we want everyone to do their part in keeping our PSD family healthy,” Atkins said. “In addition, we want to make sure we do everything possible to continue the face-to-face instruction, extra-curriculars, and athletic opportunities for our students.”