Hillsborough County Schools report 500+ COVID-19 cases in first week
Anthony Fauci supports vaccine mandates for teachers. Image via AP.

teacher mask
The district is limited in its masking protocols.

Hillsborough County Schools reported 564 cases of COVID-19 in the district’s opening week.

Students went back to class on Tuesday, following a decision by Superintendent Addison Davis to implement a mask mandate policy with an opt-out option.

The school district is reporting case numbers via an online dashboard, which updates the data daily. Of the 564 cases reported in the district’s first week of school, 336 students and 228 employees.

The cases appeared to steadily increase throughout the week, with a high number of staff cases reported Monday (76). Tuesday, the first day back for students, saw the lowest number of new cases, with 33 new employee cases and only one student case. From there, cases rose significantly, hitting 99 cases on Wednesday, 167 on Thursday, and 175 on Friday, the majority each day being student cases.

The school with the highest reported caseload for students was Pepin Academies Tampa, a charter school for children with learning disabilities. Pepin Academies reported 17 student cases throughout the week, including 11 on Thursday.

As for employees, the district office reported 25 new staff cases, followed by Roosevelt Elementary, which saw 13 staff cases.

Over in Pinellas County, which started its school year on Wednesday, the district reported 204 cases of COVID-19 in the first two days, having yet to update its dashboard with Friday numbers. The district is allowing a mask-optional policy for the time being.

The cases, tracked in an online data table, consist of 56 employees and 148 students who tested positive on the first day back. Largo High had the highest number of people test positive with three students and three school employees.

To note, students and faculty are tested through a Department of Health testing site or personal doctor, neither district tests at schools. The district dashboards also do not provide data on the hospitalization of student/teacher COVID-19 cases.

The back-to-school COVID-19 cases come as Tampa Bay and Florida as a whole experience a surge from the Delta variant. Hillsborough County alone has reported 10,920 new COVID-19 cases this week, with an average positivity rate of 23.1%. Pinellas County saw 6,434 cases of COVID-19 this past week and a positivity rate of 19.2%.

As far as mitigation protocol, the districts were limited in policies related to masking.

The week before school started, Surgeon General Scott Rivkees signed a rule requiring schools to let parents or guardians “opt-out the student from wearing a face-covering or mask,” along with rules for COVID-19 symptoms, positives and exposures.

The State Board of Education also released a proposed emergency rule after Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered a prohibition on mask mandates in schools last week. DeSantis is facing pushback from parents of children with disabilities, who are suing over the required opt-out option.

That rule will allow public school students facing mask mandates to be given school vouchers to transfer schools, and students could receive protection from “harassment” based on their decision whether to wear masks.

The rule includes a definition for “COVID-19 harassment” as targeted conduct against students stemming from a school district’s COVID-19 protocols. The list of prohibited protocols includes mask requirements, separating or isolating students, or providing COVID-19 testing requirements.

According to the Board of Education, such protocols “pose a health or educational danger” to students and lead to learning loss.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected]


One comment

  • Alex

    August 14, 2021 at 11:44 am

    Get off your moronic ass and do something DeathsAnus.

    Yes we know it’ll show you know you were wrong, but these are kids for fucks sake.

Comments are closed.


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