PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — There were six positive cases of COVID-19 reported on the first day of school in Pinellas County, according to an email from school district leaders.
The positive COVID-19 cases stemmed from three employees and three students at four schools and one administration building.
The cases were at: Northeast High School (1 student tested positive and was ordered to quarantine), Pinellas Park Elementary School (1 student tested positive and was ordered to quarantine), Carwise Middle School (1 staff member tested positive but self-isolated before the start of school), Shore Acres Elementary School (1 student tested positive but self-isolated before the start of the school year) and the Walter Pownall Service Center (2 staff members tested positive but self-isolated before the start of the school year), according to district spokesperson Isabel Mascareñas.
The cases were discussed at a board meeting Tuesday morning.
Superintendent Michael Grego told board members that the district is getting extra help from the Pinellas County Health Department to track COVID-19 cases in teachers, students and district staff. Grego says the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County has dedicated 20 people to specifically help the school district with contact tracing and determining who needs to quarantine after a potential exposure at school.
The district, he says, has also partnered with four community health centers in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tarpon Springs and Pinellas Park to offer 15-minute COVID testing for teachers so that they can get immediate results if they’ve been exposed to someone with the virus or had symptoms themselves.
The district also put out a strict message to parents whose children are attending brick and mortar classes about when their child should stay home. District leaders say if a student is waiting on test results or had a family member test positive, they cannot come to school until their results come back or the family member recovers.
“Nobody is doing anybody any favors by sending those students to school, at which point we put other people at risk,” Grego explained. “We can make this work if everyone contributes.”
School district leaders plan to rely on contract tracing to determine who needs to quarantine for two weeks after exposure to the virus. It could result in entire classes needing to quarantine at some point in the school year, according to district leaders.