ORLANDO, Fla. – By the end of August, more than 1.1 million K-12 students were back in school for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic first arrived in the Sunshine State.
What is not fully clear yet is the number of COVID-19 cases connected to schools across the state. The Florida Department of Health previously said it will release data regarding school-related cases and did momentarily in August only to pull it down off the DOH website.
According to the DOH, the department now does not plan to release data related to school cases and it will be up to the school districts. How school district report those numbers varies, some are including charter schools while others are not.
While about 40% of Florida’s student body population returned for face-to-face learning, a majority of Florida’s students are learning through virtual or hybrid options. Tens of thousands of K-12 students have also been unaccounted for but those numbers are slowly starting to improve, school district officials said. School districts are required to have plans in place should an outbreak happen on campus as part of their reopening plans submitted to the Florida Department of Health for approval.
To keep track of the public school-related COVID-19 cases and the number of people in quarantine around the Central Florida region, News 6 and ClickOrlando.com created an easy-to-use, searchable database.
Mobile devices users: Click in the interactive and drag the table to the right or left to see all of the fields.
By the first week of September, three schools in Central Florida, were forced to shut down because of COVID-19 cases. Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said the school in Osceola County that closed was due to a lack of substitute teachers able to replace those who tested positive.
In Central Florida, some school districts have been reporting how many are told to quarantine per school while other districts are reporting only general numbers district-wide. For example, Lake County provided the names of the schools, related cases and people in quarantine for each impacted school whereas many of the local school districts supplied a lump sum of all cases and people in quarantine.
As of Sept. 11, more than 700 people have been asked to quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure including in Brevard, Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Sumter counties. However, that number is likely larger due to some school districts not reporting quarantine numbers.
School districts including Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Osceola, Orange, Seminole and Volusia counties said they would begin releasing the names of all schools with COVID-19 cases at least once a week, as required by the Florida Department of Health.
Brevard Public Schools began publishing a dashboard of cases connected to school campuses on Sept. 11. The district will update the dashboard on Tuesday and Friday.
As of Sept. 11, there were 131 people in quarantine connected to schools and 23 positive COVID-19 cases across Brevard campuses.
On Sept. 1, Golfview Elementary School in Rockledge closed due to cases of the virus on campus and a classroom in Merritt Island at Audubon Elementary closed for cleaning because of the coronavirus. Golfview remained closed for an additional week and reopened Sept. 14, BPS officials said.
Flagler County Public Schools will release a list of campuses with positive cases on Fridays. As of Sept. 11 six schools and transportation work sites have had a combined 13 cases. The district did not disclose how many people were asked to quarantine in relation to those cases.
Lake County began reporting a breakdown of cases and quarantines at the end of August. For the most recent week, there were 13 new positive cases connected to 12 schools along with the transportation department resulting in 61 people in quarantine.
The Marion County School District releases a report of cases connect to schools every week on the district website. As of Sept. 10, there were 24 positive cases connected to campuses and 104 students and/or staff in quarantine.
Orange County Public Schools, the region’s largest school district, launched a dashboard on Sept.14. There have been 134 confirmed coronavirus cases since face-to-face learning began on Aug. 21. That number includes 84 student cases spread out between more than 60 campuses.
The most reported new virus cases so far was Sept. 8 with 21 in one day.
On Sept. 6, officials made the decision to close Olympia High School due to at least six positive cases and 156 people asked to quarantine who had direct contact with those individuals. Students will move to virtual learning only until at least Sept. 21, according to Superintendent Barbara Jenkins. DOH officials say the cases were not transmitted on campus by outside the school.
Bridges students at Magnolia School will transition to LaunchEd@Home learning for two weeks beginning Sept. 14. The decision was made Sept. 11 out “an abundance of caution” according to the release.
Students will learn and work from home until Sept. 25. Bridges students may return to campus on Sept. 28.
The Department of Health has notified 560 students and 76 staff members of possible exposure to the virus connected and asked them to quarantine, according to OCPS.
Osceola County’s Harmony Middle School closed Aug. 31 and reopened on Sept. 14 after 12 teachers tested positive for the virus. Nine other schools in the district have students or staff in quarantine, according to district officials.
Osceola County Public Schools began releasing a spreadsheet of cases and those in quarantine the first week of September.
Seminole County published a COVID-19 dashboard showing that 61 cases of the virus have been reported as of Sept 17. Elementary schools across the district have the most cases at 26.
In Volusia County, where the school district provides updates on Wednesday and Friday of each week, there have been 14 student cases and 5 staff positive cases for the past week weeks as of Sept. 11.
About this project
News 6 WKMG asked nine Central Florida school districts for coronavirus cases associated with schools, including those asked to quarantine by the Department of Health. While all school districts provided some of information requested and required by the Florida Department of Health, some districts included the schools where cases were reported, as well as the break down of student versus staff-related cases and quarantine numbers. Other districts provided only the overall total.
This database is updated and maintained by News 6 and ClickOrlando.com staff with information provided by the school districts through public records requests.