Nearly 70,000 COVID cases related to FL K-12 schools since the fall; but weekly cases this winter are dropping

Schools
School entrance sign. Photo, CD Davidson-Hiers

The number of COVID-19 cases related to Florida’s public and private K-12 schools is closing in on the 70,000 mark, nearly six months since the state began tracking the cases last September.

However, weekly school cases during the pandemic’s winter months in Florida appear to have been dropping for a couple weeks now.

The Florida Phoenix regularly analyzes reports from the Florida Department of Health on COVID-19 cases related to Florida’s public and private K-12 schools.

But for the first time since September, the Phoenix analysis discovered a consistent decrease in new weekly COVID cases over the course of three weeks — from Jan. 24 through Feb. 13.

Every weekly update of state data includes a “previous week” section, which isolates the number of cases in the week leading up to state’s most recent data. Here’s what Phoenix analysis found over weeks of reporting on this data:

  • For the week of Jan. 24 through Jan. 30, there were 4,854 new cases among Florida’s public and private K-12 schools.
  • For the week of Jan. 31 through Feb. 6, there were 4,327 new cases among Florida’s public and private K-12 schools.
  • For the week of Feb. 7 through Feb. 13, there were 4,084 new cases among Florida’s public and private K-12 schools.

This is the first time the Phoenix has found consistent drops in overall weekly reporting of COVID-19 cases related to public and private K-12 schools in Florida since September, when the Department of Health began releasing such data.

The Phoenix reached out to the Florida Department of Health for any insight as to why this drop is occurring but have not yet received a response.

But across the country, COVID cases have fallen by about 44% over the past two weeks, the New York Times reports. The drop in Florida’s K-12 cases could be a reflection of the overall drop in cases across the United States.

In total, since Sept. 6 through Feb. 13, there have been 69,675 cases of COVID-19 cases related to Florida’s public and private K-12 schools among students, teachers, staff, and others, the Phoenix analysis found.

The breakdown of that total shows that there were 53,054 student cases, along with 5,476 teachers, 3,481 staff, and 7,664 other cases.

Of those nearly 70,000 cases related to Florida’s K-12 schools, 47,369 cases were reported to have had symptoms of COVID-19, while 14,805 reported no symptoms, and another 7,501 cases couldn’t be determined as either.

As to the most recent weekly cases among students, the data show a drop: During the week of Jan. 24 through Jan. 30, there were 3,913 K-12 student cases of COVID-19. The following week reported 3,507 student cases, 3,255 new student cases Feb. 7 through Feb. 13.

These numbers come at a time when school reopenings during the COVID-19 pandemic is a contentious topic across the nation, as the Biden administration continues to work towards “safely” reopening most of K-8 schools for in-person instruction across the United States by April 30.

The CDC recently released guidelines on how school districts across the nation can reopen brick-and-mortar schools safely.

But in Florida, all school districts have been open for in-person instruction since the 2020 fall semester, though the option of virtual learning is available too.

Danielle J. Brown
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.