State, school districts work through how to report COVID-19 cases in schools

Three cases of COVID-19 have been reported at a Jacksonville private school.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Three cases of COVID-19 have been reported at a Jacksonville private school.

This as the state and local school districts grapple with how to inform parents of outbreaks and positive cases within the classroom.

Some school districts plan to create dashboards while others are sending out letters to parents.

One Duval County parent said she wants consistency so she can decide whether or not to take her child out of class.

Kids in Duval and Clay County have already returned to the classroom, but state officials with the Florida Department of Health say they still haven’t finished creating the dashboard that would report outbreaks of the novel coronavirus in the classroom.

The Florida Department of Health said it could be weeks before it’s published.

Some school districts, like Duval, have begun to report students and teachers who test positive. Already the district has reported at least four cases across its more than 100,000 teachers and students.

But other districts like those in St. Johns and Clay County counties have yet to give a school-by-school breakdown.

Jennifer Cowart, a doctor treating COVID-19 patients who is also a Duval public school parent, said she wants that information to decide when to send her second-grade daughter back into the classroom.

Currently, her daughter is enrolled in the distance-learning program Duval HomeRoom.

“If I am a parent with a kid in a certain school I would like to know if there’s a case in that school,” Cowart said. “Is it one case? Or is one case and the next week it’s 10 cases and we have a cluster in a classroom. That’s the actionable material that parents with their kids in brick-and-mortar schools right now need to have.”

At a private school in Jacksonville, Seaside School Consortium, the superintendent sent out a letter to parents telling them three students from the same family tested positive.

The superintendent confirmed to News4Jax the school had to put other teachers and students in quarantine as a result.

News4Jax pressed the Department of Health to find out when it will begin releasing school-related COVID-19 cases again and if it will report in the same way as the long-term care facilities.

We were told those questions would be answered when they released the resource.

About the Author:

Kelly Wiley, an award-winning investigative reporter, joined the News4Jax I-Team in June 2019.