Accidental release of school-related COVID-19 data leads to confusion

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There is confusion after the Florida Department of Health said it accidentally released its report detailing two dozen COVID-19 cases in Duval County that are related to schools.

The Duval County school district, on the other hand, is only reporting four cases of COVID-19 in its schools.

The difference has to do with how the state is deciding which county to count the case in.

The report detailing cases of the coronavirus in Florida’s schools and childcare facilities was released “inadvertently” and had not yet been finalized, according to the FDOH Director of Communications.

The list reported 559 cases of COVID-19 in students and staff at Florida’s primary and secondary schools. In Duval County specifically, the report listed 24 cases related to Florida schools.

But, the fine print clarifies, the numbers aren’t really telling you how many cases are at schools in Duval County. Instead, it’s telling you how many teachers and students who live in the county have the virus.

That means a teacher could work in a school in one county, but their case would count in an entirely different county if they lived outside the school district.

Duval County is only reporting four cases of COVID-19 in teachers and students who actually attend its schools — two teachers and two students.

Duval Teacher Union President Terrie Brady said Tuesday the way the data was reported by the state is misleading.

“I do believe it is problematic,” Brady said. “There is a lot of uncertainty in all of our schools and we want to make sure we give the accurate information as much as possible to our parents and employees and frankly our community leaders.”

Unlike other school districts, Duval County plans to release its own portal tracking COVID-19 positives within its schools daily.

“Thank God our district is going to try to be as seamless and open as possible,” Brady said.

The department of health said once it verifies the information it will begin publishing lists regularly online.

News4Jax asked the FDOH whether it would continue to report the cases in the same way and if it would give counts for each school, similar to how it reports cases in long-term care facilities. We have yet to receive an answer.

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