ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A 9-year-old boy in a class with eight other students at a local private Christian school has tested positive for COVID-19, according to Florida Department of Health in Orange County director Dr. Raul Pino.
Pino said the case at Circle Christian School marks the first one at a school, although the infection is believed to have been community-acquired. It’s unclear if the case occurred at the school’s Winter Garden campus.
School officials said family members say the student is doing well. School officials will continue to be in contact with the student’s family to monitor the student’s progress.
“Our objective is to walk wisely and faithfully through this season while responding decisively to the changing situation related to the Coronavirus,” said Jim Werner, Circle Co-Founder and administrator.
The eight other students and the teacher who were in the class may have been exposed and are being asked to quarantine and get tested along with their families. Everyone in the classroom wore masks except at recess.
The school said all students who have attended the Winter Garden facility have moved to online-only instruction until Aug. 24.
Pino said the boy got tested and received his results on Tuesday, which is the same day he started experiencing symptoms.
The boy’s parents notified the school on Wednesday and that same day, the health department implemented quarantine measures for the students, the teacher, and their families.
With Orange County Public Schools welcoming students back to campuses on Aug. 21, Pino said this week’s incident was a good trial run for what will happen when a student who is part of larger classroom tests positive.
The county’s leading doctor noted that because schools are reflective of the community at large, it’s very likely that cases will pop up.
“We are going to be very vigilant. We are setting systems to to alert us immediately when we get these cases in young children. The question isn’t, ‘Are we going to get cases?’ Yes, we are going to get cases amongst children. The question is, ‘How quickly the response?’ And what we don’t know is what is going to be the impact of asymptomatic kids in transmission,” Pino said.
Because schools are a controlled environment, it should make it easier to identify those who may have been exposed to COVID-19 and isolate those individuals.
To help with testing those students, a new site will be opening next week in the Lake Underhill area to bring in specific classrooms for testing.
Even with the precautions, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said it’s possible that schools could experience outbreaks and in turn, be forced to temporarily close their doors. At this point, it’s unclear what that process will look like but a special meeting is planning for Monday where those ideas could be discussed.
“If they have to because of an outbreak, close schools or make adjustments it will be based upon what actually occurs at that time so it could look different ways, I think. So I won’t speculate on what that would mean for our district. We certainly believe that our district has the best interest of the students and the staff in mind as well as the environment as they will make some decisions,” Demings said.
As of Thursday, Orange County has reported 32,575 cases and 330 deaths. Of those patients, 2,221 were under the age of 18, according to Pino. No child in Orange County has died from the respiratory illness.