Sept. 2, 2021 – Duval County Public Schools recently began informing families of elementary classrooms when an individual in that class reports a positive case of COVID-19. This layer of communication was added due to the inability of the Florida Department of Health to maintain pace with contact tracing in schools.
Inevitably, it has raised the question, “What about middle and high schools?”
Because elementary school students primarily attend school in the “bubble” of their classroom, it is meaningful to inform families of the classrooms where cases occur, and the district is now doing that.
Conversely, because of student movement from class-to-class and more widespread participation in activities at middle and high schools, there is no accurate way to predict how a case may impact other students without official contract tracing and case investigation by the department.
The district continues to call secondary school families whenever a positive case is reported in the school, but more precise information would not be meaningful without a case investigation.
Under Florida law, Duval County Public Schools cannot do a case investigation and make decisions regarding quarantine. This work is the responsibility of the Florida Department of Health. District leadership is in constant communication with the local Department of Health leadership, and the department fully understands our urgency with accelerating their response to cases.
The district will continue to support the department to the best of its ability with information and any support they need from schools. However, it is likely that some cases in schools could go without a case investigation during the meaningful time of potential virus spread.
Due to this and due to the high level of community transmission of COVID-19 occurring in Jacksonville, we urge families to adhere to all other guidance in place to minimize the spread and its impact on our school community.
- If your children are eligible and have not already been vaccinated for COVID-19, please give serious consideration to giving consent for their vaccination. Our school vaccination events are using the Pfizer vaccine which is now fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration. See www.duvalschools.org/vax for more information.
- Ensure your students comply with the district’s new requirement (effective Sept. 7) to wear a face covering indoors unless you have completed a COVID-19 Face Covering Certification signed by a licensed health care provider. Impress upon your child the importance of properly wearing a face mask at school. Also, encourage them to wear a face covering when participating in group events and activities away from school.
- Keep your child home from school and avoid contact with others if they are experiencing any symptoms associated with COVID-19. These symptoms may include but are not limited to fever, cough, sore throat, difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, new loss of taste or smell, fatigue, and headache.
- When you hear of cases impacting your child’s school, have them avoid close contact with others when possible, especially with friends and family at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
- Remind your children to continue washing hands frequently and use hand sanitizer.
Preventing the spread of COVID-19 relies on each person to be proactive in taking steps for personal health and the health of our students and school communities.