NEPTUNE BEACH, Florida. – A party outside the town contributed to the outbreak of more than two dozen cases of COVID-19 at Fletcher High School, said on Thursday afternoon, the head of public schools in Duvall County.
By Thursday evening, the school district had reported at least 32 cases of coronavirus among students and staff.
Coverage of new cases forced the school on Neptune Beach to close Thursday.
“I want to be clear, the situation in Fletcher does not seem to be related to the school, but rather to the social gathering that took place outside the school,”; Green told a news conference. “As a supervisor, I would be desperate if we didn’t think about this situation and demonstrate what happens when the student community doesn’t provide protection.”
Green said she did not know exactly when the party took place outside the town, but added that it was most likely Friday or Saturday. She did not say how many students attended the party.
“I’m not happy that we’re in such a position that we had to close our school because of extracurricular activities,” Green said. “I would be foolish if we didn’t think about this situation and demonstrate what happens when the student community only lets its guards go for the evening.”
On Thursday, Fletcher High students began studying at home at least Monday.
Green said the school was closed because the outbreak could affect 20 percent of the school’s students, a threshold set by the district before the start of the school year.
The overall impact of the new cases was not fully known, as contact tracking is still ongoing.
Dr Pauline Rolle, director of the Florida Department of Health in Duvall County, said all the cases were related to outside actions, including a party, as well as lower fees and transfers to households.
Roll also asked for help from the community as the Ministry of Health continues its efforts to track contacts.
“When my investigators from the Ministry of Health call, please be cooperative,” Roll said. “It is extremely important that you answer our questions and be honest with us. That’s the only way we can help protect the community. “
She asked that anyone familiar with the situation, who thought they could contact someone suffering from COVID-19, call the Department of Health at 904-253-1850.
“We’ve received feedback from the community that ‘I don’t want to be a snitch,'” Rolle said. “Please, this virus is deadly. Don’t take it that way, see it as helping others. “.
Roll added that she had also heard that some people were concerned that a call from the Ministry of Health was a fraud. She said anyone who is concerned that the call they are receiving is a scam should hang up and call the Department of Health.
The Department of Health also reminded students who showed a positive quarantine result for at least 10 days after the onset of symptoms, as well as quarantine for siblings. In addition, the Ministry of Health has asked those who have experienced positive cases to be quarantined for at least 14 days – even if they have a negative result. And school and health care leaders begged families to keep their distance, avoid large crowds and wear a mask.
“Some people in my class said they weren’t feeling very well, so I said, ‘Well, here we go again,'” said Fletcher senior Randy Prosswimmer.
Prosswimmer said he was not surprised to learn that his classmates had tested positive for COVID-19, and the school was returning to virtual learning.
“I think I know at least three sick people. Maybe more, but that’s all I know, “said Prosswimmer.
Morgan Meigs said he knew it would be difficult to keep the virus from spreading.
“Anyone who’s actually been to school knows that these corridors are crowded,” said Meigs, who graduated last year. “And if you go to this school, there aren’t many tracks.”
“I think it was just opened too early,” Meigs added. “Not just schools, but everything.”
Roll praised DCPS for its quick action on Fletcher High.
“If they weren’t good partners, it could be a lot worse,” she said.
In addition to online classes, there will be no athletics or extracurricular activities at the school, including a football game on Friday night.
“Help us all help you,” Green said. “I want nothing more than to keep schools open and as normal as possible with the education and activities that take place in our secondary schools and secondary and primary schools. But if you decide to take risks outside of school or even at school, it will have an impact. For your safety, for the safety of your classmates, and for the safety of your teachers and staff, practice health behaviors and healthy habits. “
Green said that after the Department of Health completes contact tracking, the county will then determine whether the school should remain closed for an extended period of time. Green said the county hopes to learn this information by Monday.
The plan is to extend the shutdown if 20% is exposed to everyone at the university – or one in five. At Fletcher High, this meant that approximately 320 students and staff discovered COVID-19.
In one quarter, 23 cases were reported at San Pablo Elementary School from September 6 to October 10, and one case at Fletcher High School, according to the State Department of Health. Both remain open.
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