What led to the first school shut down in Florida

Harmony Middle School to close after 10 staff members test positive for COVID-19

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – As of Monday morning, every school district in Florida has started its school year.

Only schools in hard-hit Miami-Dade County did not return students to brick-and-mortar classrooms.

But one Central Florida school was open Monday after it became the first school in the state to have closed due to COVID-19 after reopening for the year.

According to sister station WKMG, Harmony Middle School in Osceola County shut its campus down for in-person learning for the next two weeks after 10 staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

In a note to parents, the district superintendent said “there is no evidence of any secondary transmission to students. Out of an abundance of caution, the Osceola School District has decided to move all face-to-face teachers and students at Harmony Middle School to digital learning starting Monday, August 31, for the next two weeks.”

“This absolutely started during the pre-planning experience, we had a couple of staff members report testing positive on Saturday, two more on Sunday,” the superintendent said last week.

Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran addressed the school closure during a news conference on Monday. He said the teachers spread it to each other by interacting in the break room and by being together after hours.

“Our teacher population is very young, very safe, but what was not safe is our substitutes and so the reason we really we had to close the school is because we couldn’t backfill with substitutes because our substitutes are mostly over 65, and they’re just not available to us right now. So we need our adults in the school system to be very safe,” Corcoran said. “We don’t have a case in Florida yet where we’ve seen a child in the K-12 setting spread it to an adult, but the other way around is much more dangerous.”

For that reason, Corcoran urged all teachers to stay home if they are not feeling well.

Corcoran also said he doesn’t think it’s too early to say that reopening schools was a success and the right thing to do.

Corcoran, DeSantis and an adviser to President Donald Trump on Monday tried to bolster support for offering in-person learning during the coronavirus pandemic during a series of appearances across the state.

Scott Atlas, a physician and member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said that evidence is “incontrovertible” that children are at extremely low risk from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.

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Digital reporter who has lived in Jacksonville for more than 25 years and focuses on important local issues like education and the environment.