LAKELAND, Fla. — On Tuesday, there were 267 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Polk County Public Schools.
Leaders there are working to get the number of positive COVID-19 cases down. Polk County Public Schools teamed up with the Florida Department of Health in Polk County for a pop-up COVID vaccine clinic.
This comes as Polk County is seeing a record-breaking number of COVID-19 cases and more children being hospitalized.
“Polk County among several places throughout the state represent an area of high activity,” said Scott Sjoblom, spokesperson for the Florida Department of Health in Polk County.
According to state data, there were 6,521 new infections reported last week, with 12 children hospitalized across the county.
The Schools of McKeel Academy have issued a mask mandate for all staff, effective today after 12 people tested positive for COVID-19.
Officials at the charter school system, say it’s the largest single-day rate of infection, since the beginning of the pandemic.
In a statement to ABC Action News, the Director of Schools, Alan Black said:
“To be clear, this temporary employee mask mandate is not at all what we wanted to implement. Unfortunately, at this time, we have no other viable solution towards preventing additional classes of students from being sent home, or towards protecting students, teachers and staff from the risk of infection that is so rapidly increasing across our schools and across our community.”
Health officials said, right now it’s the younger population in the county that is more likely to be hospitalized.
“Either because they’re not eligible for a vaccine or because they have yet taken advantage of that opportunity,” Sjoblom said.
The Director of Schools said South McKeel Academy has surpassed the total number of cases it had during all of last year. Last week the charter school system issued a two-week mask mandate for all students and staff at the school. Black said 40% of students have opted out.
“The best strategy to address this rapid surge in cases particularly that we are seeing in our younger population is a multi-layered approach. Of course, that means vaccination, that means maintaining the social distance and it means frequent washing of hands and yes wearing a mask in a situation where social distancing isn’t possible,” said Sjoblom.
Mckeel Academy of Technology will hold a vaccination clinic Friday, for all students and staff.
The Florida Department of Health said the best way to prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death is to get vaccinated.