August 14, 2020

To: The School Board of Orange County, Florida

Dear School Board:

The School Board of Orange County Medical Advisory Committee was created to advise the School Board of Orange County regarding best practices for operating our schools safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. As one of its first tasks, the Committee has chosen to make recommendations on the timing and conditions for face-to-face instruction scheduled to begin Friday, August 21. While the Committee recognizes that there is no single recommendation that will best fit the needs of all students, parents, or teachers, it took into consideration multiple factors, including current community prevalence of COVID-19 in Orange, socioeconomic and learning needs of students, mental health, data on age-related infectivity and transmission, as well as safety concerns for students, teachers, and staff.

The Committee recommends the following:
We do not recommend changing the opening face-to-face date for children enrolled in elementary schools or voluntary pre-kindergarten programs. 
We recommend the Board consider delaying the start date for face-to-face instruction to Monday, August 31 for middle schools and high schools due to the higher potential for transmission and a potentially more complicated contact tracing process. Delaying the start date allows time for further reduction in community spread and to assess the experience and resources needed in the event of a potential transmission event in one of the lower grades. 
We recommend the following be implemented when starting face-to-face instruction or as soon as possible thereafter (this supplements the COVID-19 Health and Safety Manual)
o Mandatory use of face masks for all students, allowing for only very rare exceptions that must be approved by the OCPS Medical Officer
o Comprehensive training in basic principles of infection control including use of personal protective equipment for teachers and staff with the curriculum to be approved by the Florida Department of Health in Orange County.
o Implementation of a process that prioritizes rapid access to timely testing and contact tracing, coordinating through FDOH.
o Implementation of appropriate measures for the safety of staff

We remain committed to and will continue to work with the School Board on best practices to keep our students, teachers, and staff as safe as possible during the pandemic.

Respectfully submitted,

Vincent Hsu MD MPH
Chair, OCPS Medical Advisory Committee