More than 80,000 COVID cases related to FL schools since fall; weekly cases increasing again

Sarasota District Schools, Transportation. Photo from Facebook page, Sarasota District Schools, Transportation.

While Florida educators and school staff scramble to receive their COVID vaccines, Florida’s K-12 public and private school systems are seeing an uptick in COVID-19 infections for the first time in a month.

Overall, there’s been more than 80,000 cases related to Florida’s public and private K-12 schools since early September, according to a Florida Phoenix analysis of state data.

The Florida Department of Health has released weekly updates tracking COVID cases related to Florida schools since early September.

The Phoenix analysis of the most recent data show that in the last full week of February, there were 3,532 cases related to public and private K-12 schools, from Feb. 21 through Feb 27. That’s the first increase of weekly COVID data in about a months time, according to Phoenix analysis of previous data.

The breakout of that total shows 2,838 student cases of COVID-19, 253 teacher cases, 169 staff cases, and 272 other cases related to public and private K-12 schools.

For context:

  • In the week of Jan. 24 through Jan. 30, there were 4,854 new cases among Florida’s public and private K-12 schools.
  • In the week of Jan. 31 through Feb. 6, there were 4,327 new cases among Florida’s public and private K-12 schools.
  • In the week of Feb. 7 through Feb. 13, there were 4,084 new cases among Florida’s public and private K-12 schools.
  • In the week of Feb. 14 through Feb. 20, there were 2,191 new cases among Florida’s public and private K-12 schools.
  • In the week of Feb. 21 through Feb. 27, there were 3,532 new cases among Florida’s public and private K-12 schools.

The state health department doesn’t expound on the reasons for the changes. However, Florida leads the nation in the number of cases of infections from what is called COVID-19 variants that have mutated.

The numbers rising in schools for the first time in a month raises concerns about the future of the COVID-19 pandemic and how it could continue to impact Florida’s K-12 schools.

Overall, from Sept. 6 through Feb. 27, there were 80,682 COVID cases among Florida’s K-12 students, teachers, staff, and others. Of that number, 54,921 cases showed symptoms of COVID, while 17,038 cases were asymptomatic. The other 8,723 could not be determined one way or the other.

Last week, the Biden administration urged states to prioritize teachers for COVID vaccination plans, and Florida teachers and school personnel can now receive vaccines at federal sites and some retail pharmacies regardless of age.

Meanwhile, the DeSantis administration continues to focus vaccine priorities on the senior population, including educators who are aged 50 years and older.

Florida educators and school staff are eligible to get the vaccine, but child vaccines for COVID are still in development and students under 16 will not be able to get any vaccines for the time being.

Which means that in-school transmission could still happen even if teachers are vaccinated. And some teachers are hesitant to get the shots.

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.