JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – More than a month after 1.2 million Florida students returned to classrooms, the Florida Department of Health on Tuesday night quietly released a report detailing the number reported coronavirus cases in schools across the state.
The 13-page report breaks down the number of cases for each public school in Florida, including universities, from Sept. 6 until Sept. 26.
MORE | View the full report here
In some cases, the report provides more details about the number of cases in schools than are currently provided by school districts. The school district in Duval County gives a school-by-school breakdown of the number of cases, but many districts like those in St. Johns County and Clay County only provide the total number of cases district-wide each week.
Parents have been calling for the Department of Health to release the report so they can make better decisions about whether or not to send students back into classrooms amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Here’s a breakdown of the overall cases in Jacksonville area school districts:
- DUVAL: 95 total cases
- ST. JOHNS: 69 total cases
- CLAY: 44 total cases
- NASSAU: 25 total cases
- ALACHUA: 43 total cases
- BRADFORD: 24 total cases
- BAKER: 39 total cases
- PUTNAM: 38 total cases
- FLAGLER: 21 total cases
- UNION: 12 total cases
Taking a closer look, Baker County Senior High School in Glen St. Mary has reported one of the highest totals for any school in the state with 18 total reported cases since Sept. 6. 15 of those cases included students or staff that were symptomatic, the report shows.
Only two public high schools in the state have reported more cases so far. Baker County Middle School in Macclenny also reported nine cases in 20 days.
San Pablo Elementary School in Jacksonville Beach has reported eight COVID-19 cases, the most in the Duval County school district. All of the cases were reported last week. In the document obtained by News4Jax last week, the health department reports a consistent increase in new cases throughout Duval County schools week after week.
Nease High School has reported the most cases in St. Johns County with eight confirmed cases. That has led to many students being quarantined in the school.
There have been nine cases reported at Clay High School and seven cases reported at Fleming Island Elementary School, the report shows.
(Editor’s Note: A previous version of the story incorrectly stated the number of cases at Fleming Island High School. FIHS reported one case during the above mentioned time frame.)
There have been a low number of reported cases in Nassau County schools, with Callahan Elementary School reporting the highest number of cases in the county with four.
Hillcrest Academy in Palatka has reported 10 of the 38 total cases reported in Putnam County schools.
But how does the state build the report and where is the information coming from?
It starts at facilities like Avecina Medical, an urgent care facility that is working with DCPS to provide rapid COVID-19 testing to students and employees.
Those testing results are sent, not to the district, but to the Florida Department of Health.
FDOH then sends the information to school superintendents and principals and each school district then decides how much of the information to make public and how often.
There will be different information on individual school district COVID-19 reports.
For instance, DCPS is reporting a total of 122 COVID-19 cases among students and staff, but the state report says 95.
That’s because the state reports only show data from Sept. 6 until Sept. 26, while Duval county’s report starts back on Aug. 20 when schools reopened.
On Monday, the district clarified what its dashboard is showing.
"The dashboard only reports Duval County Public School employee or student cases impacting school operations. The total number of employees or students diagnosed with COVID-19 may be higher,” the district told News4Jax.
Several school districts, including those in Duval and Clay, are also including self-reported cases. So the school district dashboards might have some numbers that the state isn’t yet reporting.
News4Jax asked the FDOH how often the report will be updated, how it handles the information from testing facilities, how long it takes for a positive case to make it onto the report and more. We were told someone from the department will follow up with us.
Before the report was released, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday was asked during a press conference what was taking the state so long to release the report.
“I would like to get out. You know why? Because the story is a good story to tell,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis referenced an analysis of COVID-19 data by USA TODAY that released Monday that found the state’s positive case count among kids ages 5 to 17 has declined through late September after a peak in July. The rise in new cases was mostly due to infections in college-age adults, not school children, USA Today found.