COVID-19 outbreak sidelines more Fletcher High teams

Principal Ledford says he hopes return to campus isn’t delayed

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.Besides Fletcher High School’s swim and dive team, the school’s bowling and golf teams have also now seen players test positive for COVID-19 in the wake of an outbreak that closed the school last week, Principal Dean Ledford said Friday.

“Our boys and girls golf team were impacted as well. They were in regionals at the time and we had three of our golfers qualify for regionals and unfortunately they were unable to participate. We also had bowling, as well, that was unable to participate as well in their gateway conference meet,” Ledford said.

According to the Duval County Public Schools dashboard, which tracks COVID-19 infections since the start of the school year, 42 students and 4 staff have tested positive for the virus since August. Most of the student infections are linked to the recent outbreak announced last week when Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene said Fletcher would close last Thursday and students would be learning online through Duval HomeRoom.

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Ledford told parents Wednesday that all high school students should quarantine for 14 days as a precaution after learning several more students had tested positive beyond those involved last week. The Department of Health is still conducting contact tracing, which means students may not yet know if they have been exposed.

“I know the Department of Health has been working day and night, doing the contact tracing, ensuring our students are aware if they were exposed to something," the principal said. "That is why we sent out the letter basically telling our student body to take the necessary precautions. If within six feet of someone, wear the mask, try to avoid large gatherings, things of that nature, just so we err on the side of caution so we get back up and running.”

While Ledford said he expected the numbers of infections to grow, as of Friday morning, he did not have any additional information about more possible infections, since he said the Department of Health in Duval County receives that information — not him.

When asked the chances that the campus reopening date of Oct. 29 could be delayed given that the health department has not finished contact tracing, the principal said he hopes not.

“I have spoken to our district administration regarding extending that date. Right now we are still set to open on Oct. 29. As of now, that’s where all our plans are, opening on that date,” he said.

In the meantime, Ledford said the school’s custodial staff has been busy disinfecting door knobs and other high-touch surfaces to prepare to welcome students back to campus next week.

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