BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Brevard Public Schools reported fewer cases than it did earlier this fall in its twice-weekly COVID-19 update, with 213 reported infections of staff and students, and 616 quarantines from Friday to Tuesday.
The increase was far less than the district saw towards the end of August before the School Board put in place a mandatory mask policy. Cases peaked on Aug. 27, when the district reported 784 cases from Aug. 23 to Aug. 26 and 4,021 quarantines, according to News 6 partner Florida Today.
Of the 213 cases reported Wednesday, 190 were students. Most of the quarantines – 423 – were due to contact with a case at school rather than at home or in the community.
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A total of 4,762 cases have been reported by BPS since the district began tracking cases Aug. 2. Of those, 4,080 have been students, and the rest have been staff. A total of 22,959 students and staff have been quarantined.
The cases reported Wednesday, though fewer than reported by the district in August, are far higher than the district saw last year. Last fall, the district usually reported 20-50 quarantines in its twice-weekly reports.
On Sept. 3, BPS relaxed quarantine requirements for students wearing masks. students within 6 feet of a known case for over 15 minutes in a 24-hour period will still be subject to contact tracing. But if a teacher can confirm that the students were masked and 3-6 feet away from an infected masked student, none but the ill student will be quarantined.
The School Board will reevaluate the mask mandate at its meeting next Tuesday. The current policy remains in place through the end of the month.
Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran has threatened to withhold salaries for school board members if the mask mandate remains in effect. In response, School Board Chair Misty Belford last week said that due to “skyrocketing” cases, the mask mandate was necessary to fulfill the district’s responsibilities under Florida statutes and the Florida Constitution, as well as to allow schools to continue to operate in-person during the pandemic with as little interruption to students’ learning as possible.
For the first five days of the mandate, students were allowed a “grace period” in case their parents needed to acquire a medical exemption. After that, masks were to be enforced for all students who did not have medical exemptions.
Some parents reported difficulties finding a physician willing to sign off on an exemption; Florida Pediatric Group in West Melbourne posted to Facebook Aug. 30 that it would not be writing any medical exemptions.
The 10 schools with the most quarantines reported Wednesday were:
- Edgewood Jr./Sr. High with 49 quarantines
- Eau Gallie High with 42 quarantines
- Heritage High with 42 quarantines
- Central Middle with 41 quarantines
- Apollo Elementary with 37 quarantines
- Space Coast Jr./Sr. High with 26 quarantines
- Sunrise Elementary with 21 quarantines
- Fairglen Elementary with 20 quarantines
- Sherwood Academy with 19 quarantines
- Cocoa Jr./Sr. High with 18 quarantines