TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Florida Health Department officials are reporting nearly 9,000 new pediatric cases of coronavirus in the first 15 days of classes since students began resuming in-person learning across the state.
After Monday’s return to in-person classes for most Tampa Bay area schools, Highlands, Polk, Pinellas and Pasco Counties joined the Manatee County School District in reporting cases in classes.
Collectively, more than 22 cases were reported across Tampa Bay in the first two days of in-person learning.
Statewide, the Florida Department of Health reported that 48,928 people under the age of 18 have been diagnosed with coronavirus, including 611 hospitalizations and eight deaths.
On Monday, the Department of Health had a full report of school-related cases that totaled 559 and were mostly comprised of staff members. That report was later removed from the website.
The return to school came amid a legal battle between the state’s Department of Education and the Florida Education Association after Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran ordered in that brick and mortar schools hold at least five days of in-person instruction a week. If they didn’t, those schools would risk a loss of funding, according to an emergency order.
On Monday, a Tallahassee judge stuck down that order, ruling that it was unconstitutional.
Shortly after the decision was made, the state filed an appeal.
“The judge didn’t order all schools have to be closed. What he said was those parts of the commissioner’s order that conditioned funding upon arbitrarily opening brick and mortar schools before the end of August is unconstitutional,” Florida Education Association attorney Ron Meyer said.