The Hillsborough County school district has reported nearly 3,000 cases of COVID-19 in the first two weeks since students returned to classes.
But, perhaps more alarming, the district has reported 13,072 individuals impacted so far by isolation after contact with a student or staff member who tested positive for the virus. That number accounts for about 5.43% of the school district.
The district, which provides a dashboard updated daily on the number of COVID-19 cases reported by students and staff members, saw a significant increase in cases during it’s second week following the kick-off of the school year on Aug. 10.
From Aug. 15 through Aug. 20, the school district confirmed 2,233 cases of COVID-19, made up of 319 employees and 1,914 students. That’s a sharp increase from the district’s opening week, which reported 564 cases of COVID-19, including 336 students and 228 employees.
The cases remained high throughout the week, with the most cases reported on Monday at 507.
From there, cases stayed steady, reporting 408 cases on Tuesday, 462 on Wednesday, 444 on Thursday and 332 on Friday, the majority each day being student cases.
The school with the highest reported caseload for students was Sickles High School, which reported 51 student cases this week along with two employee cases.
As for employees, the district office reported 41 new staff cases, followed by Southshore Charter Academy, which saw eight staff cases.
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.
Hillsborough’s crushing numbers prompted the district School Board to implement a mandatory mask mandate this week, without the state-required opt-out option for parents. At the meeting, the School Board determined the opt-out policy was not working. Superintendent Addison Davis said 28,000 parents had filled out the paperwork to opt-out and other parents were refusing to fill out the paperwork citing Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order banning mandates.
In neighboring Pinellas County, during the first week of classes, nearly 600 students and faculty in K-12 public and charter schools have tested positive for COVID-19, with the highest concentration of student cases exclusively in north county school.
Pinellas not yet considered a mask mandate or even an opt-out rule, maintaining a mask-optional policy.