Florida still hasn’t released coronavirus school data despite support from governor

Investigations

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida students have been back in the classroom for a few weeks now and, despite the promises, 8 On Your Side still does not have a master list of COVID-19 cases from the state.

“Do we want to do eLearning? Do we want to do brick and mortar?” said mom Jessica Patterson.

Before the first bell rang, Patterson decided to pull her kids out of public school. The mom-turned-teacher is now homeschooling.

“There were just so few details and information on what school was going to look like,” said Patterson.

Patterson wanted clarity, consistency and completely candid communication.

“I definitely have huge concerns about transparency,” said Patterson. “It’s been a fight from the beginning to be able to get that information.”

Last month, the state removed a report that revealed coronavirus cases in schools. The Florida Department of Health said it was a mistakenly-posted draft.

During a news conference in Tampa on Aug. 31, Gov. Ron DeSantis said he supported the release of all the data.

He directed 8 On Your Side to the DOH and Florida’s Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees. Now, nearly two weeks later, there’s still no master list from the state.

The DOH sent us the following statement about the delay:

“County health departments provide confidential COVID-19 information on positive individuals and close contacts to positive cases to schools, superintendents or other designated individuals in school districts as that has been determined to be necessary by the State Surgeon General. This information is considered confidential under section 381.0031(6), Florida Statutes, and rule 64D-3.036, Florida Administrative Code.

Schools, superintendents or school districts are advised that the Department has provided confidential information only to them under the statute and rule. The Department does not regulate school district operations.

We are still working to determine the structure and release of the report containing information regarding cases of COVID-19 in schools and daycares and will advise as soon as that has been finalized.

This information will be made available via www.FloridaHealthCOVID19.gov in the coming days and weeks.”

Individual school districts are now releasing data in different ways. However, 8 On Your Side will stay on this until we get the master list from the state.

Public health experts believe that’s the only way we’ll know the true virus impact on schools.

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