ORLANDO, Fla. — By all accounts more people recover from a bout with the coronavirus than die. Many, many more– and that’s good. But that fact is by itself of little consolation to the families who have had to watch their loved ones struggle with and then lose to this deadly disease. The message consistently communicated by medical and health care professionals: do everything you can to avoid being infected: Wear a mask; keep at least six feet away from other people while in public; wash your hands frequently, and use hand sanitizer when you can’t.
When Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran issued his order for schools to reopen in August for in-person instruction it was met by immediate criticism. Infection numbers were spiking at the very same time, with state health officials reporting a minimum of 5,000 new COVID-19 cases each day for the 13 days before his July 6 announcement.
With the pandemic still raging, the question for parents being asked to return their children to school was: will the kids comply with the suggested behaviors when out of the teachers’ sights? Can they really be expected to follow social distancing protocols at school?
Nonetheless, Corcoran and Florida Gov. Rick Desantis pushed for the reopening of schools. By late August, Orange County Public Schools had reported 21 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 among students and employees, with 13 of the 21 being students attending 11 schools.
Since then, it appears that the numbers are still growing. Olympia High School recently reported six confirmed COVID-19 cases within the school and a seventh case pending. From those 7 cases, a whopping 156 quarantine letters were issued. The school has been closed for two weeks for all in-person instruction.
School officials tweeted: “Olympia HS parents this is an important message to let you know that in consultation with the Florida Department of Health in Orange County our entire school will be pivoting to LaunchEd@Home due to 6 confirmed and 1 pending COVID-19 case within the school. This decision to pivot is out of an abundance of caution after several positive COVID-19 cases have been confirmed and connected through FDOH contact tracing.”
During the closure there will be no athletic events or extracurricular activities. The campus is expected to reopen on September 21.