MANATEE COUNTY (WFLA) – This is the first week back to school for thousands of students across Manatee County. In just a few days, COVID-19 has found its way into multiple schools.
District officials confirm there have been positive COVID-19 cases at Ballard Elementary School, Parrish Community High School, Manatee Technical College, and Tara Elementary School.
The principal at Rowlett Academy in Bradenton confirms the charter school also had a positive case of coronavirus earlier this week.
Parents tell 8 On Your Side they knew this was going to happen, just not so quickly.
“It is inevitable. Somebody is going to test positive, unfortunately. We are all trying to be as safe as we can, but we need everyone to take these extra precautions to stop the spread and not affect other families,” said Angela Davis.
Davis has a student at Tara Elementary School where school leaders said the Department of Health in Manatee County has confirmed a couple of cases of COVID-19′. She says multiple students were sent home to quarantine.
“I know that these things are going to come up, but I was disappointed to learn that it was someone that had been tested and was waiting on results and sent their child to school anyway. That is what is really frustrating. I think as a parent, if you suspect that your child has been exposed to COVID and that they require testing, please don’t send them to school until you have those results,” said Davis.
Superintendent Cynthia Saunders says the COVID-19 District Operations Center (DOC) has been an essential part in keeping parents and staff up to date as soon as there are confirmed cases or exposures. The DOC is manned by the Department of Health and includes a full time epidemiologist.
“I do not think that we would be able to conduct school as efficiently right now if we did not have that partnership with the health department because they truly are the experts,” said Saunders.
Saunders says the DOH is alerted in real time once positive results come in from testing labs. “They get alerts of any employees or students within our school system on a regular basis, so if anyone has taken a test with any private vendor in our county or through the health department, they get the results immediately. So they have that database, they are able to alert us, and we are able to get on top of it quickly,” explained the superintendent.
“It is a whole team effort, but without them (DOH) being readily available to us throughout the day, I am telling you, there’s no way that we could get a handle on it as quickly and minimize the threat to the school,” said Saunders.
Davis feels the district has done a great job dealing with the pandemic so far.
“I really am impressed with how it is being handled. They had protocols in place, they implemented everything and I feel safe, I feel like they are doing all they can,” said Davis.
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