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Lakeland schools to open in ‘orange’ risk category

by DEVIN WEEKS
Staff Writer | August 26, 2020 2:30 PM

The Lakeland Joint School District will open in the “orange” COVID risk category when the 2020-2021 school year begins Sept. 8.

“Right now, we open in ‘orange,’ masks will be recommended but not required, and if we go to yellow it will be five days a week,” Lakeland School Board Chairwoman Rena Olmstead said following the 4-1 vote Tuesday night.

The meeting, attended in person only by board members and a few district staff, was a lengthy session packed with discussion about how school will be carried out in the different phases, ranging from devices and connectivity to how to cohort students and how to keep them at safe distances when in class.

“I would want to follow the recommendations and the ordinances that are put in place,” Vice Chairman Rob Irons said. “I think we can follow the guidelines set forth by Panhandle Health and the kids won’t have to wear masks if we enter in orange. It would be my desire to enter in orange based on all the facts and cases that we have.”

The “orange” level of operation for Lakeland indicates moderate community/school spread and means a blended learning model will be in place. Students will be alternating between learning in-person and online, with livestream or recorded options available. Precautions will include social distancing to the greatest extent possible and face coverings — masks or face shields — will be recommended where social distancing cannot be maintained. A full-time online option will be available for students.