Pinellas County teachers emotional following 6 positive COVID-19 cases

Coronavirus

LARGO, Fla. (WFLA) – There are two days down for this school year and 178 to go. With school-related cases of coronavirus being reported many are wondering if brick and mortar schools will remain open.

A judge ruled Monday that it’s unconstitutional for the state to threaten to withhold funding from districts that don’t re-open for in-person learning.

“I have colleagues going home crying…too many,” said teacher Dr. Christy Foust. “Some of them said they went to their cars on their lunch breaks to cry because they felt that overwhelmed by what was going on,” she continued.

Dr.Foust said during Tuesday’s School Board meeting that she’s currently a teacher on leave of absence because her request to teach virtually wasn’t honored. She said she’s fearful for her colleagues who went back and were exposed to COVID-19.

According to a Pinellas County Schools spokeswoman, three students and three employees have tested positive. The places affected include the following:

  • Carwise Middle School
  • Northeast High School
  • Pinellas Park Elementary School
  • Shore Acres Elementary School
  • Walter Pownall Service Center

On Tuesday, 8 On Your Side heard from teachers emotional about the number of positive COVID-19 cases.

“I say this not flippantly, solemnly. It’s not something I like to say in real life anyways but I’m going to say…I told you so,” said Dr.Foust. “I’ve been coming to school board meetings, I’ve been writing, our colleagues have been writing,” she continued. Dr.Foust said she and other teachers are upset but not surprised by six positive COVID cases on the first day of school.

School Board member Lisa Cane said two quarantine notices went out and the other cases are pending.

“There are no clear procedures in place from the state or local health dept…it’s a development process for everyone,” Cane said.

She continued that all three students were sent to school with pending tests and their results came back later that day.

The superintendent said during Tuesday’s school board meeting that he wants to remind parents not to send kids to school with symptoms or pending test results.

8 On Your Side asked the school district representative if that was the same case for the three employees who tested positive Monday if it was also teachers waiting on pending test results and haven’t received an answer.

The school district said they can’t confirm the position of the employees or if they’re teachers due to HIPPA.

“It was put forth today that we’re going to discuss what Pinellas County Schools procedures will be for openings and closures with the current health pandemic,” said Cane.

Commissioners said if school reopening leads to a spike in cases it will impact all of us.

“We’re trying to wait and see what happens with the schools because we know we’re going to have cases,” said Pinellas County Commissioner Pat Gerard. “I’m not sure what we would do. No one wants to put more restrictions on…we certainly would not be backing off the restrictions we have in place now.”

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