17 Florida faculty district staff have died from COVID-19 for the reason that faculty yr started in August

Seventeen staff of Florida’s Polk County Public Faculties have died from COVID-19 for the reason that faculty yr started on August 10, a district spokesperson confirmed to CBS Information. 

5 of those that have died had been sick earlier than the college yr started and had not returned to campus to work this faculty yr, Jason Geary, director of communications for Polk County Public Faculties mentioned. Twelve staff, nevertheless, had been “actively working” earlier than they turned sick. 

“The pandemic continues to severely influence our group, and plenty of public servants — together with educators, healthcare employees, rescue employees and regulation enforcement officers — are experiencing tragic losses,” he mentioned. “Each demise is a devastating blow to our group and reinforces the necessity for all individuals to proceed taking precautions to scale back the unfold of sickness.” 

Whereas the district does have a listing of recognized COVID-related deaths, the data is confidential, and Geary mentioned that it may be “troublesome and maybe not possible” to find out how and the place transmission occurred in areas with excessive group unfold.

Polk County is the seventh-largest faculty district within the state and is residence to roughly 14,000 staff and 100,000 college students, Geary advised CBS Information. It additionally has the seventh-highest variety of circumstances amongst counties in Florida, in keeping with Johns Hopkins College. 

Since August 23, there have been greater than 3,860 circumstances of COVID-19 throughout the faculty district, together with 433 staff, in keeping with the district’s COVID-19 dashboard. Since Monday, there have been 35 new circumstances of COVID-19, most of which concerned college students. A whole bunch of scholars have been absent on daily basis from faculty this yr for COVID-related causes. 

The county has a excessive charge of group transmission, in keeping with the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention, and the CDC has urged everybody within the county to put on a masks in public, indoor settings. Masks, nevertheless, usually are not required in Polk County Public Faculties. 

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has banned common masks mandates in Florida faculties. In September, he signed an emergency rule that faculties can require masks, however that oldsters and guardians can choose out of the requirement beneath their “sole discretion.” In that very same rule, college students who’ve been uncovered to COVID-19 however are asymptomatic are allowed to proceed going to highschool, a call that goes in opposition to steerage from the CDC. 

The CDC mentioned in August that quarantining is not vital in that circumstance just for individuals who have been totally vaccinated. These beneath 12 years outdated can’t but get vaccinated, and to this point, simply 65% of eligible Polk County residents have been vaccinated, in keeping with state well being knowledge. 

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