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Parents make decision to pull students from school amid COVID-19 spike

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As COVID-19 continues to surge, some parents say they’re facing a tough decision as the first week of the spring semester comes to a close.

Some say they’re pulling their student out of brick-and-mortar classes amid the virus’s spread.

A few told News4Jax that they’re not that concerned about the increasing COVID-19 cases, saying the safety measures in place are there for exactly this reason.

But most of the parents News4Jax spoke to Friday said as the case counts go up, so does their stress level.

MORE | Back-to-back records: Florida reports nearly 20K more COVID-19 cases

After the first week back to school for the spring semester, the concern is growing among parents of school-age kids about a potential surge of the coronavirus due to the holiday break.

Some districts are already seeing it.

Since Monday, the number of COVID-positive students reported by the St. Johns County School District more than doubled, and the number of students quarantined nearly tripled.

In Duval County, the school district’s dashboard has only seen small increases this week, 14 new cases in all.

Duval County Public Schools only lists a case on its dashboard if it impacts school operations, meaning students or staff may have been exposed on campus.

And since class just resumed on Tuesday, teachers and students have only been around each other for a few days.

All this comes as several local counties see record or near-record numbers of new cases each day in the community.

“I think it’s just getting worse and worse. And I mean, it is frightening,” said Duval County parent Heather Seconder.

“It’s been absolutely awful, probably the worst in the country,” said parent Tamara Getchell.

“I’m just trying to do everything I can to keep it out of my household,” Annessa Dunham said.

Durham has kept her four children in virtual learning since the pandemic forced school closures last spring.

She was considering returning them to in-person learning this month, but her own employer still has her working from home.

“So if it’s not safe enough for me to go back to work, then I equate that it’s not safe enough for them to go back to school,” Dunham said.

Meanwhile, Getchell says she worries about the pandemic and worries about the gap in progress that virtual learning could create.

“It’s really hard because my son is in fourth grade, he has special needs. So online school really doesn’t work for him. So he’s really scared that we’re gonna go back to online school.”

It’s also worth noting in Duval County, if a student tested positive over the break and started the semester at home, their case wouldn’t count on the dashboard since school operations weren’t affected.

Some districts only update their dashboards weekly, so we’re still waiting for the first update since the break.

On Friday evening, Duval County Public Schools sent News4Jax its latest report from the health department on cases connected to public schools as of Sunday.

Compared to the last report from Dec.13, there are 213 new cases among students across all grade levels and 159 new cases among staff members.


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