Bridgewater Middle School mom ‘fuming’ after quarantine communication mix up

26 students who were supposed to be quarantined showed up to school Monday

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Kristine Harris said she is frustrated over the lack of communication that caused her 7th-grade daughter to go to school Monday morning when she should have been in quarantine.

According to the Florida Department of Health, the mix up was due to a clerical error.

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According to Dr. Raul Pino, the director of the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, said the mistake was detected fairly quickly and parents were instructed to come to the school to pick up their children.

Harris said she was notified when a DOH employee called her around 10:30 a.m. Monday.

“They said, ‘We aren’t sure you are aware of this because there are a few of us here making phone calls and so far, the parents haven’t been aware’,” Harris said. “They said ‘We need you to go pick up your daughter.’”

She quickly picked up her daughter, and then her other two children in Elementary School, Her husband also left work and together the family got rapid tests, all came back negative. However, it’s the not knowing and lack of communication that’s frustrating, she said.

“I understand mistakes were made, this is just one where too many mistakes were made, so I was fuming on this one,” Harris said. “Luckily, we were negative but if another kid was positive and now walking around the school, that’s frustrating.”

According to Harris, the DOH employee told her that her daughter had been exposed to a positive case on Oct. 28, two weeks ago. According to the Orange County Public School dashboard, since then there have been four new positive cases and now 56 students are in quarantine.

“It’s just because somebody didn’t communicate or do their job,” she said.

In a news conference on Monday, Pino apologized to parents while explaining what happened.

“On Saturday we neglected to forward an email with all the information to the principal of that school with the people who were supposed to be quarantined this morning. Our system works because immediately this morning -- we have a second layer so everyone who gets notified by the school system also gets a call from us the next day in the morning calling to see how the child is but also offer them testing if they want to at our location at Lake Underhill -- so this morning while we were doing that second check, we detected that approximately 20 students that were supposed to be in quarantine did show up for the school because the name of the principal, the email, was not included in the distribution email that goes on there,” Pino said.

A spokesman with Orange County Public Schools said they have expressed their concerns with the Department of Health but added they value the relationship they have. OCPS referred any additional questions we had Tuesday to the Department of Health.

“We value our working relationship with the FDOH. Once we receive any quarantine information, it is immediately provided to our families and staff,” wrote OCPS spokesman Michael Ollendorff."

News 6 emailed several questions to the DOH including if any other students could have been exposed because of the error. As of 5 p.m Tuesday, DOH has yet to respond back.

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