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Three staff, one student test positive for COVID-19 in Pinellas schools Thursday

At least 67 classes have now faced quarantines.

Four Pinellas County schools reported cases of COVID-19 among students or staff Thursday, according to the School District’s Friday update.

Three employees tested positive, one each at Curlew Creek Elementary School, Richard O. Jacobsen Tech High School and Shore Acres Elementary School.

One student tested positive at Osceola Middle School.

Quarantines were issued in six classrooms at Jacobsen Tech and in one classroom at Shore Acres Elementary, plus a “small group of students.”

The district has now issued quarantines in at least 67 classrooms, on two school buses, one high school sports team and today’s cluster of affected students.

Cases of COVID-19 have now been reported at 34 Pinellas County Schools with 25 students and 23 employees testing positive. Of those schools, nine have not issued quarantines. Quarantines may not be necessary in situations where a staff member tests positive, but hasn’t had direct contact with anyone, something that could happen with non-instructional staff. In other circumstances, students or employees who tested positive the first week of school may not have been on campus.

The data does not include cases identified Friday. That information will be released Monday.

This week, the district began altering the way it determines quarantines. Previously if a student or staff member tested positive for COVID-19, any classroom where that individual had been was quarantined. Now, the Department of Health Pinellas County only quarantines students who were in close proximity with a positive patient, typically within six-feet for at least 15 minutes.

The district does not report the exact number of quarantines, only the number of classrooms or buses affected.

It’s difficult to estimate how many students and staff have been quarantined because class sizes vary and the new reporting guidelines don’t necessarily include quarantines for entire classrooms, but with known affected classes, buses and sporting teams, it’s likely the number is approaching 700.

It’s worth noting, quarantines issued the first week of school are expiring, so not all of the quarantines issued are still ongoing.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at Janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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