The Florida Department of Health has listed nearly 4,000 new COVID-19 cases related to Florida schools during the week following Thanksgiving break.
The data includes public and private K-12 schools and college and universities and spans the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5.
Overall, 33,422 cases of COVID-19 have been associated with Florida schools since Sept 6, according to an analysis by the Florida Phoenix.
Over the next few weeks, school-related COVID-19 numbers could increase through winter holidays. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has cautioned that traveling and family gatherings could lead to a spike in numbers.
During the week of Nov. 29 through Dec. 5, overall cases were reported as 3,794.
An earlier analysis by the Phoenix showed there were 3,655 cases related to Florida schools during the week of Nov. 15 through Nov. 21. Due to complications within the data for the week of Thanksgiving break, the Phoenix did not analyze the state’s report for the week of Nov. 22 through Nov. 28.
In the most recent data, compiled for the week of Nov. 29 through Dec. 5, there were 3,364 cases related to Florida’s public and private K-12 schools, and 430 from Florida’s colleges and universities, which includes faculty, staff and others.
The breakout for K-12 schools show 2,511 students tested positive for COVID-19 during the week of Nov. 29 through Dec. 5, along with 291 teachers, 168 staff, and 394 other cases.
Before Thanksgiving break, some colleges opted to switch to virtual instruction for the last few weeks of the fall semester.
Schools such as Florida State University in Tallahassee and University of Miami decided that limiting travels to and from campuses during the winter holidays will help mitigate COVID-19 transmission during the remainder of the semester.
The Department of Health still reports on cases related to virtual learners, both K-12 and postsecondary. According to the Department of Health’s website: “Every school with a reported positive case of COVID-19 is included in the report, regardless of whether it is a virtual or brick-and-mortar institution.”
The fact that some postsecondary schools are not having in-person instruction during this time might affect weekly numbers for colleges and universities in the upcoming weeks.
Whether schools should be open during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a continuous topic, one that resulted in a lawsuit from a statewide teacher union.
The Florida Education Association sued Gov. Ron DeSantis, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, among other officials, over an emergency order on the reopening of Florida schools released in early July, claiming that it oversteps the authority of local school boards.
However, recent attempts to place a temporary injunction on parts of the July emergency order have reached a hurdle, as a motion for rehearing has been denied by Florida’s First District Court of Appeal.
While the initial lawsuit is still active, Florida’s K-12 public schools have been open for months and Corcoran recently signed off on a new emergency order for the upcoming spring semester.
The FEA is currently discussing their next steps, according to communications with the Phoenix.