Over 5,000 students and hundreds of school staff in just one Florida district have either tested positive for Covid or potentially been exposed to coronavirus, school officials said.
According to a statement Monday morning from Hillsborough County Public Schools, 5,599 students and 316 employees are either isolated or in quarantine.
“Isolation refers to individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, while quarantine refers to those who have had close contact with a positive case,” the statement said.
These figures have prompted the HCPS to convene an emergency board meeting where measures “up to and including mandatory facial clothing for all students and staff” will be discussed.
The district encompasses the city of Tampa and serves over 200,000 students in more than 200 elementary, middle and high schools, according to the HCPS website, and is the seventh largest in the nation.
“We must continue to practice security throughout society as we work to combat this virus,” said HCPS Superintendent Addison Davis said Saturday.
The emergency meeting is scheduled for Wednesday at 1 p.m.
The deaths of two teachers and a teaching assistant from Covid in Broward County rattled locals as children began to return to the classroom, though Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis challenged school districts that violate his ban on mask mandates for school children.
Earlier this month, Florida broke the record for daily confirmed Covid cases.
In a speech to MSNBC on Friday, Davis explained that his district wanted mandate masks while allowing parents to opt out.
“We want to make sure we still follow all the legal requirements, all the legal consequences,” Davis said. “But at the same time, show that sensitivity to Covid in our society and put mitigation strategies to success.”
The announcement of the emergency meeting did not mention whether an opt-out of the proposed mask mandate would still be considered on Wednesday.