South Florida Sun Sentinel | by Scott Travis | October 12, 2020
At least one Broward student and two employees have tested positive for COVID-19 since schools reopened Friday, while four students have been sent home due to possible coronavirus symptoms.
The first confirmed case was a first grader on the west campus of the Pembroke Pines Charter Elementary School, run by the city of Pembroke Pines, spokeswoman Marianne Wohlert said. The employee cases were at Miramar High and Park Trails Elementary in Parkland, according to incident reports filled out by district administrators.
The students showing symptoms were at Central Park Elementary in Plantation and three Pembroke Pines elementary schools: Palm Cove, Chapel Trail and Pembroke Pines Elementary.
After keeping campuses closed since mid-March due to COVID-19, Broward schools reopened Friday for grades Pre-K to 2 and some special needs students. Students in grades 3, 4, 5, 6 and 9 can return Tuesday while those in grades 7, 8, 10, 11 and 12 can return Thursday.
Although many charter schools opened before district-run schools, the city of Pembroke Pines followed the district’s schedule, welcoming its first elementary students back Friday. One of those was a first grader who was confirmed positive for COVID-19, Wohlert said.
“The parent called and let us know on Saturday,” Wohlert said. “The parents of every student at the school were notified.”
She would not say whether any students have been quarantined other than the affected student. She said the school is following the Broward school district’s procedures for handling COVID-19 cases.
How the school district is handling cases is less clear. The office of Chief Communications Officer Kathy Koch did not respond to repeated requests Monday, other than acknowledgements of the questions.
But brief reports filed by representatives of the district’s Office of School Performance and Accountability and obtained by the South Florida Sun Sentinel give some details of cases and potential cases.
- At Miramar High, the principal reported Monday that an employee tested positive for COVID-19. “The school has been in contact with Risk Management and is following the directive of communication and staff quarantine/testing recommendations.”
- Central Park Elementary reported that a male student was sent home Friday by the isolation nurse with flu like symptoms. “The father took student to doctor to be tested and will notify school immediately of results.” It’s unclear if those results have come back.
- At Palm Cove Elementary, the principal reported a student has presented suspected COVID-19 symptoms. “The school is following district guidelines as well as guidelines from the Florida Department of Health,” the report said. “A deep cleaning with disinfectant will be conducted using the district’s cleaning protocol.”
- At Chapel Trail Elementary,the principal reported a student presented symptoms of COVID-19. The school has been in contact with Risk Management and Coordinated Student Health Services and is following the directive of communication and staff quarantine/testing recommendations.
- At Pembroke Pines Elementary, the principal reported a student has presented suspected COVID-19 symptoms and is following guidelines by the district and Department of Health, a report says. “A deep cleaning with disinfectant will be conducted using the District’s cleaning protocol,” the report says.
- A previously resorted case of an employee at Park Trails Elementary is a teacher, said Anna Fusco, president of the Broward Teachers Union, She said she thinks the teacher’s students are being quarantined.
Miami-Dade schools, which opened last week, closed its MAST Academy, a marine science magnet school, on Monday and switched to virtual instruction after two confirmed cases late last week. The school is slated to reopen Tuesday.
Although Miami-Dade has had at least six other cases, no other schools were closed.
“High schools are larger and there is more movement of students (between classes, to/from cafeteria etc.) which means more individuals to notify in our contact tracing/school investigation process,” spokeswoman Natlia Zea said in an email. “Additionally, due to the timing of this self-reported case, on Sunday, it was decided that the best course of action in this particular situation was to temporarily pivot” to online learning.
Palm Beach County schools have reported 33 employee and 31 student cases since school opened in mid-September. No schools have been temporarily closed as of yet.