HENDRY COUNTY — After starting the school year with virtual learning on Aug. 24, Hendry County reopened “brick and mortar” schools on Monday. Hendry County Superintendent of Schools Paul Puletti spent Monday and Tuesday touring the schools and reported everything was going smoothly, with students and teachers happy to be back and happy to see each other.
He said students and teachers seem to be adapting well to the “new normal” of wearing masks and maintaining distance from others.
District-wide, 10 staff members were out this week related to COVID-19.
• Clewiston High School has four staff out due to COVID-19. One teacher and one paraprofessional tested positive. One teacher is symptomatic but tested negative. One teacher was exposed and was advised to self-quarantine.
• LaBelle High School has one paraprofessional whose own children are symptomatic and is awaiting test results.
• Country Oaks Elementary has one paraprofessional whose test was inconclusive and who was advised to quarantine.
• LaBelle Elementary School has one paraprofessional who is symptomatic and is awaiting medical diagnosis.
• Eastside Elementary School has one paraprofessional who is symptomatic and awaiting medical diagnosis.
• Clewiston Middle School has one teacher who tested positive and one teacher who was exposed and was advised to self-quarantine.
So far, no students have tested positive.
Hendry County Schools used funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief,and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) to hire additional custodial staff and paraprofessionals. Puletti explained each classroom is sanitized daily, and teachers also clean high contact areas as needed. He said more paraprofessionals were needed in order to provide supervision of students in smaller groups.
Just over 62% of Hendry County families opted to send their children back to the schools, with just over 37% opting for distance learning. About 87% of teachers are back in the “brick and mortar” schools. Puletti said most of the teachers teaching the distance learning classes are doing so from the schools. Those who needed to work at home due to medical issues that make them more at risk should they contract COVID-19 were allowed to do so.
Hendry County teachers returned to work on Aug. 3. Students started school with distance learning on Aug. 24. Schools reopened Aug. 31.