Just one week into the new school year, 8,400 students and 307 employees in Hillsborough County are isolated or quarantined as COVID cases continue to rise.
That's equivalent to a little less than 4% of the student population in the county.
Isolation refers to individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 while quarantine refers to those who have had close contact with a positive case.
The Hillsborough County School Board will hold an Emergency School Board Meeting on Wednesday, August 18, from 1 p.m.-3:30 p.m. in the School Board Auditorium to discuss the latest district COVID-19 impact and the best way to mitigate against the spread of the virus, up to and including mandatory face coverings for all students and staff.
The current policy in Hillsborough County is that masks are mandated for students, but there is an opt-out provision.
Tampa mom Elizabeth Devolder made the decision to keep her fifth and second-grade children home from school in what she is calling voluntary quarantine.
“Although they were not immediately exposed, and they’re not required to quarantine, I felt like why do we have to wait for our kids to get sick before we take an action?” she said.
More than 1,081 teachers and students in Hillsborough County tested positive for COVID-19 just one week into the new school year, according to the district's COVID-19 dashboard.
“I think it’s terrifying,” Devolder added.
Across the bay area, districts are reporting more than 2,800 cases of COVID-19 in schools.
Some districts are stepping up to help kids in quarantine. Pinellas County added live tutors to assist students with completing their assignments.
Hillsborough County added an online portal with resources for parents.
Devolder plans to keep her children home until the numbers go down. Until then, they’ll be writing to lawmakers asking them to put more protections in place.
"We homeschooled last year and if we have to do that again, we’ll do that again," she added.
- Check the COVID-19 cases at your child's school
- What your child's school district is doing about COVID as students return
- Back-to-School: Everything you need to know
Hillsborough County School District's Wednesday meeting will be streamed on our website and streaming news channel.