SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Schools in Sarasota County will now have added tools to track and test for COVID-19 cases on campus. The biggest resource we’ve had throughout this pandemic is the Health Department Dashboard, which shows the number of coronavirus cases in our community every day, and starting today, we’ll also know that data for Sarasota Schools.
“There is absolutely no question that there are a lot of ominous tasks that are taking place right now, but I believe communication is so important as we navigate all kinds of challenges, but especially this one,” Sarasota County School Board Member, Bridget Ziegler, tells us.
The district’s own COVID-19 dashboard will be available online 24/7, and updated once a day at 2 p.m. Today was the first day of reporting, and it showed a total of five positive cases have been reported since the start of school. These cases were at Brentwood Elementary, Laurel Nokomis School, Phillippi Shores Elementary and Riverview High School.
“We don’t want any hysteria, so we want just honest and accurate information. Throughout this whole process, we’ve realized that this is so important. Many people get frustrated when there’s different data points coming out, so this helps us inform the public in an easy, streamlined way and access tool for parents to understand what is happening without rumors going out there. They can verify and validate the data,” explained Ziegler.
The School District is also adding another COVID-19 resource this week in hopes to ensure that all students and staff will be able to get tested and get their results in 24 to 48 hours – three testing sites specific to Sarasota County Schools.
“Hopefully quicker results can give us a better understanding of this disease in our students. You can have someone symptomatic, but there’s obviously other sicknesses circling right now, if we know that they are negative then we know they don’t have COVID, and we can scale back recommendations made to other students who have been in contact with that person. On the other end, if they are positive, then we can more rapidly make those recommendations and put things in place to prevent the spread in those schools,” explained Michael Drennon, the Manager for The Disease Prevention Services At The Sarasota County Health Department.
Drennon says these testing sites will only be for symptomatic members of the school district.
“For contacts, unless they become symptomatic, we are not strongly encouraging them to get tested because those test results do not change our recommendations. A contact needs to quarantine for 14 days regardless,” Drennon said.
The Sarasota County School District will be offering free COVID-19 rapid testing by appointments at the Department of Health in Downtown Sarasota, at the School Board Materials Management Department in Osprey, and at the Sarasota County Schools Bus Depot in North Port.