Updates for Alachua County: Back to School 2016

By Delia Albert
Back to School Updates Alachua County

As a parent, your mind naturally begins to reel at the thought of a new school year approaching. Shopping for back-to-school necessities, facilitating carpooling and organizing weekly schedules are just a few of the items on the annual checklist.

In addition to preparing your children for the first day, it is crucial to understand the landscape of your current school district. If your kids attend a school within Alachua County, there are a few updates for the 2016–2017 school year!

Alachua County Public Schools Superintendent

Alachua County residents took note when Owen Roberts, the county’s former superintendent, resigned in June 2016 after his effectiveness and academic integrity came into question. This vacancy caused concern for parents and community members about who would fill the position moving forward.

According to Jackie Johnson, the director of communications and community initiatives at Alachua County Public Schools, Karen Clarke served as acting superintendent until Tuesday, July 19, 2016. Former Deputy Superintendent Sandy Hollinger was approved by the school board to replace Clarke as interim superintendent on that day.

Johnson said Hollinger has served as a teacher and principal on the elementary and high school level. Hollinger has also served as interim in the past and has held the positions of assistant superintendent and deputy superintendent in Alachua County.

“She has many years of experience locally with our schools and our district,” said Johnson. “She is a great choice to guide us during this time.” Johnson said parents should feel at ease with Hollinger as interim superintendent.

The current plan is to start looking for a permanent solution towards the end of the calendar year, said Johnson. However, it is a fairly lengthy process and ultimately a decision left up to the school board.

Johnson said members of the community are encouraged to be a part of the process and will have the opportunity to meet the top candidates. More information will become available to Alachua County residents at a later time.

Flu Shot Information

According to Paul Myers, the administrator of the Florida Department of Health in Alachua County, school-located influenza vaccination will occur this year. FluMist will not be available anywhere in the United States, however, so the department will provide traditional flu shots.

Since 2009, the department of health has consecutively provided flu vaccinations to all children in Alachua County public and private schools. Myers said the only way to get vaccinated this year will be the traditional flu shot.

Parents should expect to receive more information about the flu shot during the second week of school, said Myers.

*If you live in a county that offers flu vaccines, please see an advisory statement released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dress Code

Dress code rules and regulations can often be a nuisance when taking your kids shopping for the new school year. Although the primary intention of the Alachua County dress code is to promote a positive learning environment, these requirements can seem tricky.

Understanding the rules and exceptions to the dress code is the best way to make sure your child can enjoy all school activities and events. The general rules of the dress code apply to all students while attending school, as well as students attending school-related activities after a school day.

General requirements

• Clothing should be the appropriate size for students.
• The waistband of a garment should be worn at the waist and not below.
• Shirts and tops must cover the midriff, back and sides at all times.
• Shorts and bottoms should be worn no shorter than mid-thigh.

Exceptions

• Students can wear special clothing if it’s for a school-sponsored activity deemed appropriate by the principal.
• Students can wear a uniform for the career academy, if enrolled in the program.
• Elementary students (only) must wear closed-toed and closed-heel shoes.
• Outer garments may be worn when necessary due to the weather, but must be the appropriate size.
• The dress code policy may be waived for reasons such as religion or medical necessity.

Prohibited Items

• Clothing that is not properly fastened
• Clothing, hairstyles, piercings and accessories that are dangerous and/or disruptive to students
• Indecent or vulgar clothing
• Form fitting clothing that is not covered by outerwear
• Unlined sheer or lace
• Visible undergarments and sleepwear
• Clothing that promotes drugs, alcohol, weapons, tobacco, gangs or lewd sexual behavior
• Clothing that discriminates against a group or individual on the basis of age, color, race, disability, national origin, sexual orientation, religion or gender
• Hats, bandanas, sweatbands and other headgear inside the school building, except when approved by the principal
• Combs, curlers, hair picks or sunglasses inside the building