Here’s what it will take to keep Tampa Bay schools open during pandemic, according to expert

Coronavirus

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — In the first few weeks of August thousands of kids around the state Florida have tested positive for the coronavirus.

This has some questioning how schools will be able to stay open.

Since March, the Florida Department of Health reports that 47,049 Floridians under the age of 18 have been diagnosed with COVID-19, including 593 hospitalizations and eight deaths.

But what’s more concerning is the number of cases between Aug. 7 and Aug. 20 — 7,188. This includes 74 hospitalizations and 1 death.

As schools start in-person classes, some have raised concerns that returning to the classroom will help spread the virus.

Chair of Pediatrics at USF and Chief at Tampa General Hospital Dr. Patty Emmanuel knows there will be cases in the schools.

“I think we all are anxious to know what it will look like. However, we know that there are going to be cases,” she said. “We’re sure there are going to be cases. I think the school system has good policies in place and are working with the department of health to make sure that we minimize exposures to other students.”

Emmanuel also helped lead their partnership with Hillsborough County Schools to reopen. She said the bay area will likely be dealing with the virus for the next year, maybe longer.

In the meantime, Emmanuel said her best advice is for everyone to remain consistent.

“I think flexibility. I think we are going to have to adjust as time goes on. I really implore families and parents to work with their children to wear masks and to be conscious of their behaviors, the social distancing, the hand washing.”

Emmanuel also said it’s important for parents to be diligent about keeping kids home when they may be infected with the virus.

“I think there will be times that students will be quarantined or asked to get tested but hopefully we can minimize that. One of the most important things. If parents can, if their children are sick, keep them home,” she said.

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