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School returns on the First Coast. How are they handling COVID?

A third grade student works on a lesson at iPrep Academy in Miami.
Lynne Sladky
A third grade student works on a lesson at iPrep Academy in Miami last year. Most schools have relaxed COVID-19 restrictions that were present earlier in the pandemic..

Most school districts on the First Coast, like Nassau, Clay and St. Johns counties, saw students return to class Wednesday, while classes in Duval are set to begin Monday.

One of the biggest change for students and families? The lack of many COVID-19 restrictions and mitigations that were present earlier in the pandemic.

Most districts, including Duval, have elected to stop publishing positive COVID cases to a publicly available dashboard for families.

The St. Johns County School District also is no longer notifying parents when their children are exposed to COVID-19 and has elected to take down their dedicated COVID hotline for parents.

Duval, too, is discontinuing its nightly calls and elementary school letters about individual cases at schools, according to WJCT News partner The Florida Times-Union.

As for mitigation and quarantines, First Coast schools will all utilize the guidance put in place by Gov. Ron DeSantis for the 2022-2023 school year. Students and teachers in Florida are not required to mask. Students or teachers who test positive for COVID-19 are required to quarantine for five days and can return after the fifth day if they have not had a fever in 24-hours. They are not required to show a negative COVID test.

On the latest episode of WJCT News' "What's Health Got To Do With It?" host Dr. Joe Sirven discussed child safety and the lack of COVID-19 mitigations like masking with UF College of Medicine Jacksonville Chief of Community Pediatrics Dr. Jeffrey Goldhagen.

At this point, according to Goldhagen, the best protective measure available is to get school-aged children vaccinated if they're eligible.

"Not only for the children, but also for the parents and the grandparents and everybody that the child comes into contact with. To protect them, the kids need to vaccinated," he said.

"What's Health Got To Do With It?" airs on WJCT News 89.9 at 4 p.m. Saturdays and 9 p.m. Sundays.

Reporter Raymon Troncoso joined WJCT News in June of 2021 after concluding his fellowship with Report For America, where he was embedded with Capitol News Illinois covering Illinois state government with a focus on policy and equity. You can reach him at (904) 358-6319 or and follow him on Twitter @RayTroncoso.