Only 40% of employees with Orange County Public Schools are fully vaccinated

Health officials starting to see COVID-19 cases among children increase

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County Public Schools are offering a $200 incentive for any employee in the district it shows proof they are fully vaccinated.

Superintendent Barbara Jenkins said 40% of employees are fully vaccinated.

With just eight days to the start of school in Orange County, a Central Florida doctor on Orange County Public Schools’ Medical Advisory Committee told News 6 the district has not reached out to them for guidance or to schedule a meeting.

Dr. Akinyemi Ajayi, a pediatric pulmonologist, said there are things both parents and teachers can do to keep kids safe in the classroom.

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His advice for parents is masks and hand washing for their kids heading back into the schools.

For teachers, he said they should be wearing masks to protect themselves and the students.

Ajayi said the teacher should try to create social distancing for the kids.

When it comes to recommendations for the district, Dr. Ajayi said he would advise masking. And for those that are unvaccinated, or do not want to wear a mask, he said he recommends testing to make sure they aren’t bringing COVID-19 into the classroom.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than 38,600 child COVID cases were reported in the United States from July 15-22.

The AAP said children made up almost 17 percent of the weekly reported cases.

“It’s no surprise the numbers are going up, it’s what we expected, not necessarily because of [COVID-19] numbers are going up, or because it’s the delta variant, but because we’ve decided as a society that we’re not going to take the prevention of COVID as seriously anymore,” Ajayi said.

Ajayi said kids are spreaders and said they can transmit the virus in a classroom setting.

He said his biggest concern with the pediatric case numbers, is that some kids can get severe COVI-19, and added that it can lead to a capacity problem, in terms of care.

“What we’re forgetting is our capacity to take care of children is significantly more limited when you compare it to the adult capacity; I mean how many beds, for example, do we have available to provide specialty level care for children in the entire Orange County, and how quickly could we overwhelm that capacity,” said Dr. Ajayi.

About the Author:

Lauren Cervantes was born and raised in the Midwest but calls Florida her second home. She joined News 6 in August 2019 as a reporter.