Public school students set to start classes in FL amid rise in COVID-19 cases

By: - August 8, 2023 5:28 pm

Teacher with students, in a classroom. Credit: Getty Images.

Sixty-one school districts will begin classes for students on Thursday as the Florida Department of Health is reporting a nearly 20% increase in new COVID-19 cases. Only 26% of elementary school-aged children, ages 5 to 11, are vaccinated against the disease.

There were 12,869 COVID cases posted on July 21, compared to 15,170 on July 28, according to the current health department report. The analysis was published Aug. 4.

Over the full 10 weeks, new cases of COVID started at 5,423, on May 26, then steadily rose. By June 23, the COVID cases were at 7,320. By July 28, the figure was 15,170, according to a biweekly report from the state health department.

The increase in positive cases in counties such as Brevard, Hillsborough, Palm Beach and Pasco was higher than the state average. In Hillsborough, 1,144 people were tested positive, the highest number of cases in counties where children will be going to school this week.

Broward and Miami-Dade counties had larger numbers, but those counties, and a few others, will not begin school until later this month.

While U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized in April the current bivalent vaccines for people 6 months of age and older, the number of vaccine doses administered in Florida has declined to 885 within the past 10 weeks. There are no COVID-19 vaccination requirements in Florida public schools. And there are no mask requirements in Florida’s public schools.

Though the increase in COVID cases is concentrated among adults, more than 1,000 school-aged children contracted COVID-19, based on two categories, ages 5 to 11 and 12 to 19.

Teachers in the vast majority of school districts are already in their classrooms this week.

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Jackie Llanos
Jackie Llanos

Jackie is a recent graduate of the University of Richmond. She has interned at Nashville Public Radio, Virginia Public Media and Virginia Mercury.