OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. — Osceola County is the school district at the greatest risk of community spread in Central Florida, according to new data.
Researchers at the University of Texas have created a tool that takes the current disease prevalence within a county, then translates that into the probability that someone shows up to school infected.
The tool can help districts guide their reopening plans to consider the current spread of the virus through their communities.
Right now, Osceola County has the highest rate of spread among its residents, so researchers believe 20 people out of a school of 1,000 will show up the first week infected.
Marion County comes in with the second highest count at 17 people, followed by Orange County at 14 people.
Researchers assume five more people will become infected from every case.
The analysis is based on seven days worth of case data that ended July 28.
Jason Salemi, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of South Florida, did the math for the last seven days and found the rates in those three counties have since dropped, meaning fewer people will show up to schools with COVID-19.
“Because of the reduction in testing we’ve had recently, because of the reduction in the number of cases, the story is already quite different,” Salemi said.
But he said there’s a big takeaway from the data.
“If we can get the virus under control in our communities, we can reduce the likelihood that students and teachers are going to come into the school setting and return people back safely,” he said.
The last update from Orange County Public Schools said about 42,000 students registered for in-person learning, and about 30,000 students registered in Marion County. Osceola County hasn’t released its numbers yet.