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Pinellas County Schools report 204 positive Covid cases in first two days

Mark Parker



Parents socially distance while waiting to pick up students from Meadowlawn Elementary School. Photo by Mark Parker.

Just two days into the new school year, the Pinellas County School Board (PCS) reported that 204 students, teachers and staff have tested positive for Covid-19.

Pinellas County schools welcomed students back to class on Wednesday with an added concern – the surge in Covid-19 cases fueled by the delta variant. PCS reported 37 employees and 72 students tested positive on the first day back. Out of the 92 facilities listed, Largo High had the highest number of people test positive with three students and three school employees. Bardmoor Elementary, Dunedin High, and 74th Street Elementary had the most students test positive with four each.

On the second day of the school year, the district added 19 employee cases and 76 more students. Orange Grove Elementary and Palm Harbor University High both topped the list with five students each. Dunedin High added four more positive student cases Thursday to lead area schools with eight thus far.

In the two days since reopening, 20 employees were exempt from quarantine. Individuals that come in direct contact with the virus but are either fully vaccinated or previously infected in the last 90 days are exempt from quarantine – per Department of Health (DOH) protocol. Students and faculty are tested through a DOH testing site or personal doctor, PCS does not test at schools. PCS Public Information Officer Isabel Mascarenas told the Catalyst that in the event of temporary vacancies due to teachers in quarantine, the district is “making sure our classrooms are covered with either substitute teachers or school staff.”

Reopening schools for in-person instruction coincides with the county recently reporting an average of 800 new cases a day and a 16.2% positive average. Dr. Ulyee Choe, Director of the Florida Department of Health for Pinellas County, said those are both the highest levels recorded since the pandemic began. He added the number of hospitalizations from Covid is also at an all-time high.

Due to a state order, PCS cannot require staff or students to wear a mask, although they strongly recommend them, and make them available to anyone in need. School district personnel will not monitor or enforce the use of face coverings on school grounds. If a student displays symptoms while at school, they are then screened by the school nurse and sent home until they can provide written clearance from a healthcare provider or a negative Covid test. If a child becomes exposed to a confirmed positive case, parents are contacted directly by the school or the Department of Health.

Students under the age of 12 are currently not eligible for vaccination, and all immunization requirements for school attendance are mandated by the state legislature and not individual school districts. However, USF Health has recently announced it was selected as a site for the Moderna vaccine trial on pediatric patients between the ages of six months and 11 years old.

At a recent Pinellas Board of County Commissioners meeting, Choe warned that pediatric cases are also rising sharply. On Tuesday, Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital reported 12 hospitalized Covid patients, with eight in the ICU. For June, All Children’s reported 12 pediatric patients throughout its health system. In July, that number ballooned to 181. Through the first 10 days of August, 90 pediatric patients have been admitted with Covid.

The district said it continues to practice mitigation strategies, including:

  • Social distancing when possible
  • Upgraded ventilation and air filtering
  • Enhanced cleaning and sanitation practices
  • Masks and hand sanitizer are available and encouraged
  • A full-time nurse is in every school
  • Separate clinics for anyone showing symptoms of Covid
  • All water fountains will remain closed



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  1. Avatar


    August 14, 2021at7:15 am

    It’s a shame that we have to subject our children to this virus amongst a lack of concern from our governor for the safety of our children we don’t even know what the future of this virus is but yet we’re subjecting our children to it shame on him

  2. Avatar

    W. Kinder

    August 14, 2021at10:51 am

    Why did these students and teachers go to school? Some of them must have exhibited some symptoms.
    When and where were they tested? I find it hard to believe that all were asymptomatic.

    Are the schools tacking temperatures at the school entrance or at a classroom site?

    How many times do we need to hear, Stay Home if you feel ill. Wash your hands.
    Social distance.

    We don’t need masks we need some common sense!

  3. Avatar


    August 14, 2021at12:35 pm

    I think the governor is only trying to protect our right to make a choice. If you feel as though you need to wear a mask for protection then wear one. Same for your child in school. If he is doing such a bad job then why are people flocking here by the thousands? One is capable of making the choice for themselves. You don’t need a mandate to make the choice to mask up.

  4. Avatar

    Brad Banks

    August 14, 2021at3:39 pm

    “CD” , do you really not know the answer to that question or are you just continuing to be willfully ignorant? Let me tell you for the one millionth time (although if you only watch Fox News You probably have not heard this) but : masks protect other people from catching your virus that comes out of your nose and your mouth. Yes wearing a mask helps as well from catching someone else’s germs but the person with the germs wearing the mask greatly reduces the risk to OTHER people. That’s the Scientific answer, should you be interested.

  5. Avatar


    August 14, 2021at8:02 pm

    What is name of the 38-year-old Pinellas Park High School teacher who died of COVID last week? In Pinellas, teachers were in training across the county before kids came back. Despite the teacher’s union demand for social distancing, masks and virtual training options, none was allowed. Thousands of teachers gathered without social distancing and few masks. Students have been back three days and already a teacher has died. Let us mourn the dead and wear a mask.

  6. Avatar


    August 15, 2021at12:14 am

    Drunk driving and excessive speeding don’t hurt anyone. It’s only when those things result in a wreck that people get hurt or killed. We should all have the freedom to do those things, as long as we don’t hurt others. Maybe you’re a really good drunk driver, or super skilled at race car speeds in school zones! Why should YOU be penalized because others can’t handle their liquor or don’t know how to drive? And how about…seatbelt laws…car insurance…passports to travel…requiring smoke detectors…registering for the military draft…paying taxes…Social Security…attending grade school? Obvious violations of personal freedom and privacy! Sad! Personal responsibility is ALWAYS the way to go! Even when there are safe and effective things which are proven to save lives, it’s more important that people have the right to choose whether or not to endanger themselves and others…now THAT’s freedom! As for “the common good” and “looking out for each other” that people keep talking about? Malarkey! It’s all about YOU! It’s YOUR right to make a choice. YOUR freedom trumps everything. Nobody else matters! Certainly not my 6 year old daughter who just started 1st Grade at a PCS school this week…

  7. Avatar


    August 15, 2021at8:40 am

    I don’t think anything of the kind is in play. The word “pandemic” comes the Greek words Pan ( all ) and Demos ( people ). A pandemic isn’t about one person or one person’s freedom. It’s about all of us and to beat it we must act as one in that effort. DeSantis is appealing to the base “me me me” in people rather than call on us to think us us us. ( a sure political calculus that should show all Floridians where he stands ) Arguments about “freedom” and “choice” have no place in this fight anymore than we’d accept a soldier going against commands because he felt acting as commanded a loss of personal freedom. If you choose the “freedom” to unmask you’re choosing a pro-virus position. If you choose to stay unvaccinated you’re a COVID breeding ground and laboratory for the next mutation. If you want to see masks gone forever…off all faces…put one on today. If you want to see COVID gone…vaccinate against it.

    Let’s stop pretending it’s about “freedom”. Do you wear a seat belt? That’s a government mandate. Why not unbuckle give the police a freedom defense?

    It’s a deadly pandemic. As a Governor of 22 million people DeSantis’s “me me me” is guaranteed to fail .. And the proof is in the pudding. Florida is the WORST place in the world when it comes to COVID. What kind of freedom is that?

  8. Avatar


    August 15, 2021at4:00 pm

    If you think your child is in danger, then homeschool. It’s free and safe. Actually, you’re kidding yourself if you think your child is safe because of a mask mandate. Do you actually think the kids wear their masks the whole time in school? What about at the lunch table. What about at recess? What about the kids who don’t cover their noses with the masks? You’re just getting a false sense of security if you think mask mandates work.

  9. Avatar


    August 16, 2021at2:02 am

    How many innocent children will be hospitalized with Covid and how many will die before our governor sees the light??? Requiring teachers and students to wear masks is a small price to pay to help ensure the health and safety of our children.

  10. Avatar


    August 18, 2021at10:02 pm

    My son returned to school because they arent offering online and the homeschool, virtual schooling is so overwhelmed I can’t get him in there either. The first thing the kids do is meet in the gym every morning. And my son said when they are leaving the gym, going to lunch and leaving school, they are all crowded together. Social distancing isn’t possible. Why did they do away with online classes until this is figured out? Freedom? Seriously people? Whovever is saying that, doesnt have kids to send to school taking a chance they are the next to die from this because theres no way to keep them safe. Just start up the online classes until we get past this.

  11. Avatar

    Jessecca Dockery

    August 20, 2021at3:58 pm

    I to am a mother with School Aged Kids, two in High School one in Middle School, My son who’s in High School at Hollins High tells me masks are still required at all times on Campus except in Designated Area’s for Mask Breaks Yet my son in Middle says its not required but he chooses to wear his Mask cause he doesnt want to get sick. This isnt a choice of Freedom its about protecting ourselves and others around us. I almost lost my mother whos 62 to Covid she caught in February (SHE NEVER LEFT THE HOUSE)this is August shes in a Rehabilitation Center Having to rebuild Muscle Tone just to stand and walk because she was on the Ventolator so long and had to be weened off she was Vented from 2/12 to 5/20 with a prognosis of never coming off the Ventolator thank GOD for PAM Acute Care of Sarasota who successfuly weened my mother off the Ventolator and got her back to Pinellas County just needing Oxygen, At the same time I also watched my brother suffer through Covid without Hospitalization His Girlfriend Suffer through Covid Hospitalized 4 days, My Sister in Law test positive but Asymptomatic, My son’s Girlfriend only suffer a dry cough, My 16 Yr old only a runny stuffy nose no cough, and my Aunt and Uncle suffer being really sick unhospitalized my other 3 boys and myself never got the Virus I slept in my car for 2 months in my driveway so I wouldnt get sick so I dont want to hear about “FREEDOM” ! This is about Protection for ALL!

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