Coronavirus: 179 people asked to quarantine since start of Seminole County school year

Possible COVID-19 exposure reported at 9 schools

The number of people Seminole County Public Schools has asked to quarantine this academic year stands at 179 Wednesday, up from 158 on Tuesday.

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – The number of people Seminole County Public Schools has asked to quarantine this academic year stands at 179 Wednesday, up from 158 on Tuesday.

That number also includes two teachers who were possibly exposed and sent into quarantine before classes began.

Health officials in Seminole County said those cases are community-acquired and not from the schools itself.

“Obviously, the incubation period hasn’t been long enough since school opened to see any transmission within the school system,” said Donna Walsh, health officer for the Florida Department of Health in Seminole County.

The state health department in Seminole County reports 21 students and four staff members testing positive in 17 different schools in the county. The number includes private and charter schools.

Seminole County Medical Director Dr. Todd Husty said since the county enacted the mask mandate, cases have been dropping significantly. Tuesday, the daily positivity rate hit 3.93%.

“Are we going to see a breaking point of exposure with schools reopening? This is going to go on. We knew that going in, that’s why we were trying to be so careful. We’re going to track everybody,” Husty said.

Of the new possible COVID-19 exposures, 13 were at Bear Lake Elementary School, officials said.

Below is the list of schools:

  • 2 teachers prior to the school year starting at Altamonte Elementary School who are set to return next week
  • 18 individuals quarantining at Lake Mary Elementary School
  • 21 individuals quarantining at Lawton Elementary School
  • 13 individuals quarantining at Bear Lake Elementary School
  • 15 individuals quarantining at Wilson Elementary School
  • 3 individuals quarantining at Winter Springs High School
  • 11 individuals quarantining at Hagerty High School
  • 26 individuals quarantining at Lyman High School
  • 70 individuals quarantining at Lake Brantley High School, based on three instances

On Tuesday, SCPS said that there were 11 possible exposures at Teague Elementary School, but on Wednesday that school was taken off the list because SCPS said it was still “waiting to confirm.” If those quarantines are added back, they would bring the total number to 190.

The district on Wednesday also upped the number of individuals in quarantine at Lake Brantley High School from 51 to 70.

Keep in mind, those who are in quarantine have not necessarily been diagnosed with COVID-19 but are self-isolating because they may have been exposed to the deadly respiratory illness.

Michael Lawrence, communications officer for Seminole County Public Schools, said the confirmed cases include both teachers and students. He said the district is working with the health department to determine who needs to quarantine.

“So we really want to make sure that they’ve had close contact, within that 6 feet, masks or no masks, with that longer than 15 minutes of time,” Lawrence said Tuesday.

Health officials said they will continue to work with schools to make sure those who may come in contact with the virus are quickly notified to quarantine. As far as Seminole County goes, health officials are confident the cases won’t have as much as an impact as it did last semester when schools closed their doors.

“I think we’re a long ways from the concern of shutting down the schools. I don’t think we’re ever going to reach that,” Husty said.

Seminole County students who opted for in-person learning returned to the classroom on Aug. 17 and were greeted by enhanced safety measures, including desk shields and masks.

Everyone who has been asked to self-quarantine has been switched to the district’s Seminole Connect remote-learning platform. Those students and teachers will be utilizing the platform for the duration of their quarantine, per district policy, according to statements from each school.

The number of cases and quarantines associated with Seminole County schools is expected to fluctuate daily.

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About the Authors:

Crystal Moyer is a morning news anchor who joined the News 6 team in 2020.