Local schools reopen despite increase in COVID-19

Schools across the state have reopened despite a rise in pediatric coronavirus cases. Photo courtesy Aolani Brown

More than 11,000 new coronavirus cases among children in Florida have been confirmed over the past 22 days as classes resume across the state.

A pediatric report released by the Florida Department of Health on Aug. 31 showed that there were 51,054 cases of the novel virus in state residents under the age of 18. This data showed an increase of 11,319 cases from previous data released on Aug. 9, which counted 39,735 affected adolescents.

Leon County accounts for 541 of these pediatric cases.

According to an article published by the Tallahassee Democrat, families in the county were split almost evenly in regard to modes of academic instruction with about 15,000 students attending in-person classes and 15,400 opting for online instruction.

Cindy White, a guardian of five children enrolled in the Leon County school system, was not surprised at the influx of cases among children during this time.

Some of the other states had already begun in-person classes. We had enough empirical evidence to support the fact that within the first week or two we would probably see an outbreak,” White said. These other states were our guinea pigs — we should have done remote learning for at least the first 30 days.”

As of Monday, the day that classes resumed  in Leon County, children between the ages of 14 and 17 made up more than a third of the cases in the state with 18,127 confirmed cases and 208 hospitalizations.

Leon County Schools has implemented several precautionary measures in an attempt to ensure the safety of students while attending in-person classes.

According to the Safe Start Leon Reopening Plan published by the school board, schools will perform daily temperature checks and pediatric evaluations, develop sanitation and isolation protocols, and uphold social distanced learning while in classrooms.

Despite precautions being taken in primary and secondary schools, a document published by the Florida Department of Health states that children are not required to wear masks and in the case that they are used should not be worn by children under the age of 2.

The Safe Start Leon Reopening Plan states that pre-kindergarten to second grade learning will consist of live teacher led instruction” and asynchronous online learning.” This mode of instruction will place a responsibility on the parents and caretakers to ensure that their children are actively participating in their schedule’s two-way instruction” and other various academic activities.