Education Officials Offer Guidance in Handling Virus

Education Officials Offer Guidance in Handling Virus

By Ana Ceballos, The News Service of Florida

TALLAHASSEE — Florida education officials have outlined how local school officials should respond when students or employees test positive for the coronavirus, providing more details on what has been a top concern amid school reopenings.

At the heart of the guidelines is a “coronavirus symptomatic decision tree” that lays out who should be sent home, for how long, and for what symptoms, according to a 12-page report released by the Florida Department of Education on Tuesday.

While Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran has acknowledged coronavirus cases are likely to occur when schools resume in-person instruction, the report spotlights the steps school officials should take when students and teachers get infected at school.

“Simply being in the same classroom, building, or at the same event as a positive or symptomatic person does not mean someone must be contact-traced and self-isolated,” state officials wrote in the report, which was shared with Florida school superintendents on Tuesday.

Local school officials are being asked to contact a COVID-19 team within the state education agency to discuss the “coronavirus symptomatic decision tree” before shutting down classrooms or schools.

The “decision tree” advises that people who test positive for the virus and who are symptomatic should not be allowed to return to school unless they meet three criteria. The criteria require 10 days to have passed since symptoms began, or 20 days if the illness is severe; at least 24 hours since resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications; and other symptoms have improved.

As Florida continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic, 24 counties have reopened schools in accordance with Corcoran’s July 6 order mandating that all schools offer in-person instruction five days a week by the end of the month. At least three districts — Martin, Bradford and Seminole — have reported positive coronavirus cases among students and teachers since schools began reopening last week.

Earlier this month, the Florida Association of School Superintendents asked Corcoran to provide “clear and articulate processes” for how the state would help local leaders determine who needs to be quarantined and how to handle contact-tracing, the process used to track infections.

Corcoran responded to the letter in a conference call with superintendents last week, urging them to be “very surgical, not sweeping” when responding to coronavirus cases. He offered more details on the guidelines Tuesday.

The goal, according to the report, is to create the least amount of disruption to students’ learning when trying to determine who has been exposed to the coronavirus or when contact-tracing. The plan advises local officials to rely on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention definitions when determining who was exposed to a person who tested positive for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, or had symptoms.

“Minimize disruption by isolating only those individuals,” the plan says.

Students and employees who are not experiencing symptoms but were exposed to someone who is symptomatic and is awaiting test results should be allowed to “continue learning to the greatest extent possible.”

Under the state guidelines, exposure is defined as “close contact of 6 feet or less for 15 minutes or more,” in accordance with CDC guidelines.

To prevent the virus from spreading on campus, it is important to tell staff and parents that “adults are the biggest threat to the health of our school community,” education officials wrote in Tuesday’s report.

“Everyone should ask themselves — ‘What are my habits outside of work and what am I bringing to work or school every day?’ ” the report says.

7 Responses to "Education Officials Offer Guidance in Handling Virus"

  1. Also note the dismissal of the ace2 receptor development hypothesis in favor of the “non-symptomatic so not tested” hypothesis for children making up 2-5% of cases when both are clearly true and both merit high quality study to nail down mathematically.

  2. “Be Careful”, since you are “up to date” I’m sure you’ve read the actual study with a critical eye and aren’t cherry picking suspect science to back your biases? I’ve read the study and can point out instantly why the headline is misleading bunk, can you? Here’s a hint: what days are severely ill adults most contagious, how many days on average before they see an ICU? How are the tests performed differently in those two groups? Did the author’s study test the adults or only the children? Is the rate of MISC in their children normal? Is their cross section of children then representative of general society or is there some special circumstance building their data cohorts that their statistical fixes do not account for? Science is not a gang sign or blind faith headline religion it is an intellectual process.

  3. When somebody holds Rocky Hanna accountable for dating teachers on his campus as a high school principal then paying them off with taxpayer dollars to transfer after he bullied them and admitting he lied to the FBI and the school board attorney costs taxpayers $600,000 let me know.

  4. We’re all going to die!… run, hide, quit work, skip school, loot, burn, pillage… and remember; it’s all President Trump’s fault.

    … well… at least until the election is over anyway

  5. Asymptomatic kids may be more contagious than severely ill adults, new study finds

    Keep up to date. We are learning new things about this virus.

  6. And this is the reason my daughter has already started Florida Virtual School. Not because of the stupid virus, but because of the stupid adults who lack any common sense, muzzle up the kids unnecessarily and focus on the panic and hysteria to the complete distraction of any real in-classroom teaching.

    They will shut down any school with anyone having the sniffles. The CDC has already acknowledged that a positive test may not be Covid19 specifically, it can be positive for any of the viruses in the Corona-virus family, including the Common Cold and Flu. Kids do not transmit the virus to adults, it’s the other way around. And, by the way, there have been zero deaths of children in Florida specifically due to Covid19. Again, according to the CDC, the median age of Covid deaths is 78 and the average life expectancy of Americans is 78. Stop the hysteria and panic.

  7. Please stop publishing stories from The News Service of Florida.

    If you continue to insist, please file them as opinion pieces. These pieces are not ethically written or investigated.

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