DELAND, Fla. — The Volusia County School District announced that they will no longer be doing temperature checks. They stated that the change is in accordance with CDC recommendations.
Volusia County parents have mixed feelings about the change in protocol and how information about the change was delivered.
What You Need To Know
- Volusia County Schools stopped temperature checks
- School board member says it will help free up staff
- Decision is based on December guidance from the CDC; Biden administration continuing that guidance
- RELATED: CDC School Reopening Guidelines
Mother of two Kelly McCathran explained that she found out about temperature checks stopping from her 9-year-old daughter. McCathran said she dropped her off at school on Tuesday feeling fine, but she soon called saying she didn’t feel well.
“I went to get her and she told me they didn’t take her temperature check," said McCathran. "When I got her home I took her temperature and it was a low grade fever, like 99.8. It may not have even been flagged by the temperature check, but I was just shocked and astounded that the parents didn’t have that communicated to them."
McCathran said she had no idea that this was a permanent change until she contacted her children’s principals. School board members said the decision to stop temperature checks was made last week during a weekly meeting with the health department, where they shared that as of December the CDC no longer recommended schools conduct symptom screening.
“Stopping doing these temperature checks in no way should be interpreted as in we are relaxing our COVID best practices,” said Carl Persis, a Volusia County School Board member.
The Department of Health in Volusia County explained that because many COVID-19 symptoms are present in other illnesses, symptom screenings have the potential to exclude students from school repeatedly even though they do not have COVID-19.
"The Florida Dept. of Health in Volusia County and Volusia County School District continues to work closely to help protect students, teachers, and staff to slow the spread of COVID-19," wrote Patricia Boswell, an administrator at the DOH in a statement.
Persis said this change also takes a daily burden off their staff members.
“There were a lot of people conducting these temperature checks, so I am happy that as we learn more about best practices dealing with COVID, when we realize that there are some things that we are doing we no longer have to do, then let's stop doing those and let's pay attention to the things we should be doing,” said Persis.
McCathran said she was reluctant to switch her children back to in-person schooling and is not happy about the sudden change, even if the efficiency of temperature checks for spotting symptoms of COVID-19 is debated.
“Temperature checks were one of those things that gave me piece of mind,” said McCathran.
Other parents shared that they are not bothered by the change.
“I don’t think they are catching anybody who has COVID so I don’t really think it is a great method,” said Kim Short, a mother of two students. “I am glad to see that our school system is following what the Dept. of Health is recommending.”
What both parents agree on is that they should have been told before checks stopped. The school district says they did not tell schools what day they should stop checking temperatures. Parents said they got an email from the district Tuesday night, when some schools had already not taken temperatures that morning.
“It is so easy to let us know when you know rather than shock a parent with a major change during a pandemic," said McCathran.
A spokesperson for the school district said information about the change was posted their website on Tuesday.
Spectrum News 13 asked Persis if students have the option to shift to online learning because of the change. He said that window has passed.