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Knott: We are keeping eye on school conditions

As Escambia County students return to school on a staggered-start this week, special attention is being given to keeping students safe and healthy.

John Knott, superintendent for the Escambia County School System, said he is keeping a constant eye on conditions swirling around the country concerning COVID-19 and variants of the virus.

“With the rising number of COVID-19 cases and the Delta variant in our area, we are increasing our efforts to do everything we can to insure the health and safety of our staff and our students,” Knott said. “As of now (Tuesday), we do not have a mandate on masks for our students or staff, but we are strongly encouraging and recommending all students, staff and visitors to wear face masks on our campuses. That guidance can change any day because we are constantly monitoring health conditions in our area.”

Knott said personnel on campuses across the county will be continuing to use equipment, supplies and procedures to keep everyone on campus safe from the virus.

“We are focusing on high-contact areas like doors, desks, handles – just anything that is touched a lot – and have our custodians and staff working to help keep facilities clean around the campuses,” Knott said. “We are also asking our teachers to continue to teach constantly about hand washing sanitation, and social distancing to make sure we provide as much intentionally good behaviors in our students and staff that we can.”

The staggered-start of the school year began on Monday and will continue through today (Wednesday) when all students will have returned to their respective campuses, Knott said.

“We did the staggered-start last year and it was well received and was very successful,” Knott said. “We did that again this year so that we could have smaller groups returning to campus to have the opportunity to establish procedures and requirements without a large crowd of students at one time.”

Knott said the new school year will see many lessons from last year still in place at the schools.

“We learned last year that we could put some protocols in place that would keep our staff and students safe and healthy,” Knott said. “We will continue those things including social distancing to the greatest extent possible for everyone.”

With the return to the classroom and school campuses this year, some will be seeing new leaders at their schools.

New principals around the county include Todd Williamson – principal at W.S. Neal High School; Courtney McBride – principal at Flomaton Elementary School; Keiana White – principal at Escambia County Alternative School; George Brown – principal at Flomaton High school (moving from Flomaton Elementary); and Randall Jackson – principal at Pollard-McCall Junior High School.

New assistant principals have also been placed at county schools including Terries Lett at Rachel Patterson Elementary School and Elizabeth Andrews at W.S. Neal Elementary School.