COVID cases related to FL K-12 schools have surpassed the 50,000 mark in a just a little over a semester

School entrance sign. Photo, CD Davidson-Hiers

COVID-19 cases related to Florida’s public and private K-12 schools have surpassed the 50,000 mark during the pandemic, with at least 55,453 infections since early September through mid January, according to a Florida Phoenix analysis.

In the most recent update by the Florida Department of Health, the breakout shows 41,573 student cases, 4,463 teacher COVID cases, 2,793 staff cases and 6,624 other cases during this timeframe from Sept. 6 to Jan. 23.

Of the total 55,453 COVID cases related to Florida schools since September, at least 37,804 cases showed symptoms of the virus, while at least 11,648 showed no symptoms at all. Another 6,001 cases were not identified one way or another, according to state data.

In a previous Phoenix report on the data, which analyzed the same data from Sept 6. through Jan. 16, the COVID cases related to Florida’s public and private K-12 school had not yet reached the 50,000 milestone, according to the state data.

Florida students have been in school for the spring semester since the week of Jan. 4.

The new milestone comes at a time when some students, families and teachers are still unsure about the safety of schools during the pandemic.

As of yet, Florida teachers and staff do not have access to the the COVID vaccines, except for those 65 or older. In addition, new mutations, called variants, of COVID-19 located in Florida and elsewhere in the nation raise additional concerns.

Access to timely and accurate reports on COVID-19 cases related to Florida schools can help families and school administrators make plans and react to changes surrounding the COVID pandemic.

The Department of Health previously updated the weekly school data either on Tuesdays or Wednesdays — reporting on data collected through the most recent Sunday. But in an email with the Phoenix, the state health department’s communication office said that they would now update the data on Fridays.

When the report dropped late Friday afternoon, it reported cases up through Jan 23. Switching to Friday makes the numbers less timely.

When asked why they decided to change the day the report was released, the Department of Health did not respond back.

Danielle J. Brown is a 2018 graduate of Florida State University, majoring in English with a focus in editing, writing, and media. While at FSU, she served as an editorial intern for International Program’s annual magazine, Nomadic Noles. Last fall, she fulfilled another editorial internship with Rowland Publishing, where she wrote for the Tallahassee Magazine, Emerald Coast Magazine, and 850 Business Magazine. She was born and raised in Tallahassee and reviews community theater productions for the Tallahassee Democrat. She spends her downtime traveling to all corners of Florida and beyond to practice lindy hop.