MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WWSB) -This week Manatee County School District has had to quarantine over 500 people after being directly exposed to COVID-19
On Monday alone, 279 people were sent home to quarantine. The school district requires anyone who was directly exposed to a positive COVID-19 case to quarantine for ten days before returning back to school. As of Thursday, Manatee County School District’s Covid dashboard shows 11 employees and 29 students tested positive for the virus this week. There has been 268 Coronavirus cases within the district since August 17th.
Manatee County School Board Member, Dr. Scott Hopes, said he believes the reason the district is seeing more Covid-19 cases is because there is an increase in cases along the Suncoast. Hopes said what we’re seeing is the aftermath of Halloween, a long weekend for Veterans Day, and a result of many people in the community becoming complacent. He said he is worried what will happen after students return to school after a nine day Thanksgiving vacation.
“If we do not want to be like New York City and some of these other states that are closing their schools down, we need the community to buckle down and wear masks, wash your hands, maintain social distancing. The best advice I could give anyone for Thanksgiving dinner is have it with the people you live with,” said Hopes.
He went on to say he’s expecting to see an unbelievable number of COVID cases in schools within the first three weeks of December.
“Not because it’s being spread in the school, but because students will have been out for an entire week at Thanksgiving, some will be traveling, some will be attending large Thanksgiving celebrations and dinners and not following the protocols that the children follow when they’re at school,” Hopes said.
Manatee County School District’s Superintendent Cynthia Saunders has created a medical advisory committee that includes ten physicians to help guide her decisions about how to deal with the virus at schools. Dr. Hopes has also started conducting an epidemiological study to determine what schools are doing better than others and figure out why. But, he said while the school district is doing all of the necessary COVID safety measures, the district cannot control what people do outside of school. So for now the district continues to spread the message to Manatee County community members to continue to wear face masks and follow the CDC guidelines.