ABC Action News | By Rebecca Petit | January 6, 2022
POLK COUNTY, Fla. — Polk County Public Schools is urging parents and students to take steps to remain safe during an uptick in pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations.
School-age children make up 14% of new COVID cases in Polk County, according to data from the Florida Department of Health.
“Getting access to a physician’s office can be increasingly difficult especially when positive rates are high,” said Frederick Heid, Superintendent Polk County Public Schools.
The district is offering a new tool for parents and students, as an alternative to going to already crowded hospitals.
The district has partnered with Hazel Health to provide free telehealth services to students. A virtual consultation with a physician can be done from home or while a student is at school.
“Physicians are brought in real-time and can evaluate a student with parental consent and even parental participation but also affords those things to be done outside of school in the comfort of an individual’s home,” Heid said.
Since launching Hazel in November, the district has seen parents utilizing the tool in the morning, before sending their child to school.
“So, they’re not going to school sick with symptoms that could be COVID and we are able to advise them based on them based on a number of screenings whether getting tested for COVID is the appropriate next step,” said Andrew Post, Hazel Health Chief Innovation Officer.
Hazel Health also offers students free mental health visits.
“We have reported significant increases in anxiety, and frustration and fear, and other factors that have significantly impacted our student population,” Heid said.
Parents will need to provide consent for in-school access to hazel health.