ORLANDO, Fla. – More than 200,000 Orange County students began the fall semester virtually Monday in Central Florida’s largest school district as the Florida Department of Health continues to confirm thousands of coronavirus cases.
Since March, 39,375 children in Florida have tested positive for COVID-19, resulting in seven juvenile deaths, according to the DOH pediatric virus report. Of those positive cases, more than 1,900 were reported in Orange County.
In less than two weeks, about 37% of the school district’s students will return to campuses for face-to-face learning. The surrounding nine school districts begin the 2020-2021 school in the next two weeks with virtual or in-person options.
Across Florida, all school districts but Hillsborough County have virtual and in-person learning plans ready. Last week, the Hillsborough County school board announced they would only offer virtual.
Gov. Ron DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran doubled down Monday during a discussion with educators and parents in Jacksonville saying students need to have the option for face-to-face learning. Under an executive order, districts across the state were ordered to offer in-person learning in August or risk funding cuts, although parents can choose to continue online learning.
“We gave them the emergency order so that those locals would not have to worry about getting funded less. It was to give them the peak flexibility to be able to serve every single person here in this room, some want to go back to in-person school, some teachers, most teachers want to go back, most students want to go back,” Corcoran said.
DeSantis and Corcoran have both repeatedly said children are at “low risk” for coronavirus. The governor repeated that five times Monday during an education roundtable.
“It’s pretty clear that the schoolchildren are not the drivers of community spread like we would fear with seasonal influenza,” DeSantis said.
However, medical experts say while the pediatric death toll remains low, children can be COVID-19 carriers and infect at-risk individuals, which is one of the concerns as schools reopen for the 2020-2021 school year.
Across the state, 4,155 new positive cases were reported Monday, bringing Florida’s total to 536,961 since the pandemic first arrived more than five months ago. The positivity rate of people who tested positive for the first time compared to the overall number of tests was 8.60%.
The last time Florida’s new case count was this low was on June 20.
While the sheer number of cases continues to grow, many people who test positive for COVID-19 will have mild or no symptoms at all therefore it is important to monitor hospitalizations and deaths attributed to the virus.
On Monday, the state added 93 new fatalities, bringing Florida’s death toll from the virus up to 8,408. That number includes 8,277 residents and 131 non-residents who died in Florida.
As of Monday morning, there were 6,929 patients hospitalized with coronavirus in Florida, according to the state Agency for Healthcare Administration. The Florida Department of Health reported 280 new hospitalizations on Monday, bringing the overall total to 30,785 since March.
Here are three things you need to know about the coronavirus for Aug. 10:
- Pandemic relief: The next round of coronavirus financial relief remains in limbo. After negotiations with lawmakers on the next package of pandemic economic assistance hit a wall, President Donald Trump asserted he had the authority to defer payroll taxes and extend an expired unemployment benefit, although at a lower amount than what the jobless had been getting during the crisis. However, Trump’s end run around Congress on coronavirus relief is raising questions about whether it would give Americans the economic lifeline he claims and appears certain to face legal challenges. Democrats called it a pre-election ploy that would burden cash-strapped states.
- Bumpy start for virtual learning: Orange County students began their school year virtually Monday, however, it wasn’t a smooth start for some. Parents reported their children had trouble signing in and with livestreaming classes. Technical issues will likely continue to provide an added difficulty for families during the pandemic as the majority of students will continue their educations virtually this semester. Here’s what parents were told to expect in Orange County for the first day of school.
- Lake County students, teachers: Lake County Public Schools will offer rapid COVID-19 testing for school staff and students this week ahead of the school start on Aug. 24. Before the academic year begins, the school district is offering the opportunity to take a COVID-19 test for free and receive results in about 10 minutes.
Below is a breakdown of COVID-19 cases across Central Florida’s 10 counties:
Polk County was the only county in the region to report new fatalities from the virus on Monday.
|County||Total cases||New cases||Hospitalizations||New hospitalizations||Deaths|
Nearly 170,00 people in the U.S. have died of COVID-19 since March with more than 5 million cases, according to Johns Hopkins University.