ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Orange County School Board Chair Teresa Jacobs said there are concerns that too many COVID-19 cases among school staff could cause schools to have to close.
“We are concerned with the possibility of having to close down our schools if we lose too many of our faculty in particular,” Jacobs said Tuesday.
The district said 700 staff members were out on Tuesday.
Jacobs said they’re working to minimize case numbers and transmission by requiring masks on campus for all adults.
Florida law keeps schools from mandating masks for students, so Jacobs said she sees this move as the best for all.
“For our parents, it’s very helpful for their children to go to school, we know for our children, it’s extremely helpful for their mental health for them to be back in school,” she said. “So we’re doing everything we can to create a climate that will be safe enough to keep them in our schools.”
This week, Orange County parents were told if they still want to keep their children out of school that it will be marked an excused absence. Jacobs said the district is strongly encouraging those who keep their children home to home school them so they don’t fall behind.
And even though less than 10% of current COVID-19 cases at AdventHealth’s area Centra Cares are children, health experts still encourage parents who choose to send their students to school, to wear a mask.
“During class when they’re indoors especially because that can help reduce transmission,” said Dr. Tim Hendrix with AdventHealth Centra Care. “If they’re the appropriate age, get them vaccinated. Now is the time.”
Jacobs said she’s encouraged by data that shows while highly contagious, omicron’s grip will be short lived.
Given the legal limitations against universal mask mandates and remote learning, the chair said she’s confident the district is poised to handle COVID-19′s latest storm.
“We have less options, but let’s use the options we have and use them responsibly,” Jacobs said.
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