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By Robert Connors
Managing Editor 

Polk Schools Implement New Security, Covid Procedures

Bags and Purses Included in Random Student "Screenings"

 

Last updated 8/4/2022 at 1:55pm

In the aftermath of the ongoing surge in school shootings nationwide, Polk County Schools plan to conduct random "screenings" of students during the coming school year, which begins Wednesday, August 10.

According to a released issued by Polk County Public Schools Superintendent Fred Heid, "ALL screenings are done randomly."

"Schools will vary the screening location on campus, the time when the screening takes place and the frequency of a screening," Heid wrote "For instance, a school might select every fifth student who enters the main building upon arrival in the morning."

Heid further indicated that the screenings will be conducted by school district staff only, using a metal-detection wand and will include bags and purses. Law enforcement will not be involved in the searches but "they will be present should dangerous or illegal items be found."

The new effort builds upon the district's prior efforts to boost school security, which already includes security cameras, perimeter fencing, and secured doors, with admission only through the front office. All students and staff are also required to wear identification badges.

The new policies also include a crack-down on threats of any sort, "whether verbal, written or posted on social media." Such threats "create unnecessary fear and anxiety, as well as waste the time of our school staff and law enforcement officers."

"We must take every threat seriously - it doesn't matter if a student is joking or simply making an outburst. Please speak with your children and reinforce that this type of behavior is unacceptable, and carries serious consequences," Heid stated.

NEW COVID POLICIES

"To help promote a clean environment for learning, the school district has also instituted new Covid policies to deal with the rising rate of infections due to the new BA.5 variant.:

• Air purification devices in all classrooms and offices

• Hand sanitizer in classrooms and sanitizer stations in buildings

• High-touch area cleaning/sanitizing throughout the day

• Ultraviolet (UV) filtration systems (installation began in pre-k and elementary classrooms this summer)

• Touchless water fountains (installation began this summer)

• Reinforcing the importance of personal hygiene (covering mouth when coughing/sneezing, proper hand washing, etc.)

COVID Protocols

Anyone with COVID or COVID-like symptoms must stay home and return when one of three requirements is met:

• Five days pass from symptom onset, person is fever-free 24 hours without medicine, and symptoms are improving OR

• They receive a negative test, and they have no symptoms OR

• They have a doctor's note to return

NOTE: Anyone considered to be a "close contact" is allowed to continue to go to work/school as long as they are symptom-free and do not test positive, should they choose to get tested."

 

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