COVID cases increase in local schools

Photo courtesy LCS

As coronavirus cases in Florida continue to reach groundbreaking numbers, concerns are being raised as these same numbers are reflected in schools across the state.

Data collected by Florida’s Department of Health show that school cases — including universities, high schools and grade schools — rose by 78% in the last three weeks.

Floridais nearing 1 million COVID-19 cases and has recorded 18,156 deaths since the beginning of this pandemic. With such alarming numbers, principals are trying their best to protect the health of their students, faculty and staff.

“We ask that students bring their own water bottles, all classroom desks are cleaned every period, the custodian is cleaning the bathroom every period, kids remain socially distanced while playing outside. Teachers are taking them (students) outside for mask breaks,”  Brandy Tyler-McIntosh, assistant principal at Swift Creek Middle School, said.

The Leon County School District continues to roll our updated safety measure as administrators  learn more about the deadly virus. But there is still a rise in the number of cases. Families understandably  fear for the safety of their household due to possible exposures at school or on a bus.

Parents have from Nov. 23 to Dec. 18 to change their child’s education model for the third nine weeks of the school year. They will still have the option to have their child enrolled in the district’s digital academy or in-person.

This leaves many parents between a rock and a hard place. They are complaining that distance learning does not work for everyone, but because they do not want to compromise their child’s health or put the household at risk, they feel pressured to have their child participate in the virtual academy.

Dr. Jenna Wheeler, a pediatric critical care physician at Orlando Health’s Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, said that even though the younger population is not experiencing the worst of the virus, they are still getting plenty sick. These kids are going after school and potentially exposing the older population who many not handle the virus as well as they do.

“We need to be doing everything we can to protect not only our adult population, but to be protecting our kids as well,” Wheeler told Spectrum News.

On Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis extended his executive order than bans local governments from enforcing mask mandate violations. This follows his executive order signed on Sept. 25 that prevented municipalities from fining people for violating a mask ordinance and his commitment to not closing down the state.

A handful of Florida mayors have expressed their concern about the rise of coronavirus cases and are asking DeSantis to change his perspective on the issue so they can work to stop the spread in their cities.

A summary of cases associated with primary and secondary schools in Florida can be found on the Florida Health Department’s website.