The Florida Department of Health (DOH) is scrambling to develop a statewide system that tracks COVID-19 outbreaks in public schools and daycares.
In a statement to CBS12 News, a spokesperson for the DOH said the following:
We are still working to determine the structure and release of the report containing information regarding cases of COVID-19 in schools and daycares and will advise as soon as that has been finalized.
Weeks into the 2020-2021 school year and there’s no formal statewide tracking system.
“This data is public information,” said Justin Katz, the president of the Palm Beach County Classroom Teachers Association. “It needs to be disclosed.”
Right now, keeping tabs on cases is in the hands of individual school districts.
Some school districts in Florida, including Brevard County, have created their own tracker.
Katz says in conversations with the Palm Beach County School District school leaders seem to be on board with creating their own version.
“Duplicate something that they had seen in Hillsborough County,” he said. “It was kind of like a real-time, day-to-day, COVID-19 data tracker for the district.”
Katz feels it’s critical.
“So the people can feel comfortable and confident, that the schools are being honest and addressing any infections in the proper manner,” he said.
This as students in Palm Beach County prepare to head back to the classroom on Monday.
In Martin County, the district is keeping track of how many kids are quarantined and subsequently moved to remote learning. The district’s spokesperson sent CBS12 News this statement:
As the District is not the agency responsible for collecting, verifying or maintain public health data, we do not operate a dashboard related to COVID-19 cases. We do track quarantines/transitions to remote learning protocol that are carried out at the direction of DOH Martin, which is the agency responsible for tracking cases.
St. Lucie County school leaders tells CBS12 News they are still weighing their options.
Okeechobee County schools are sharing information on Facebook. The district sent CBS12 News this statement:
That is where we are including the notices for each site incident. We maintain a spreadsheet for FLDOE with a little more detail, but in the interest of confidentiality (and being a small town), we don’t get too specific on our Facebook posts. The Department of Health also maintains and shares a list of students that are positive, are close contacts, or have been tested so we can ensure they don’t end up on campus before they make it to the end of the quarantine or exclusion period.
Indian River County school leaders are updating outbreaks on the district’s website here.
The Florida Department of Education does want the school district to be transparent about COVID-19 cases in schools, but not violate HIPAA laws while doing so.