Florida Student’s Return Back to School Amidst the New COVID 19 Surge. Most Florida children are returning back to school in areas where COVID-19 outbreaks are far more intense than they were when school started last year. In most counties, cases are at least four times higher than a year ago, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. Five counties report a more than tenfold increase. Cases among children are surging, too, raising questions about the health consequences of students returning to campuses and a state ban on school mask mandates while vaccines are available for only some of the schoolchildren.
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Public health experts and pediatricians said last fall that the most important factor to consider when deciding whether to start classes in-person was the amount of viral spread in the community at large. With cases so much higher than last year, districts are going against those recommendations by welcoming students to campus and limiting online learning options. Those moves follow instructions from the state government, which also prohibited schools from requiring masks for all children.
Over the seven days before last Friday’s state report, Florida saw 13,596 cases among children under 12, and 13,858 cases among ages 12 to 19.
COVID in Florida this year compared to 2020
In the corresponding report a year ago, Florida reported 2,396 cases under age 12 and 3,596 cases among ages 12 to 19.
In five counties – Indian River, Liberty, Sarasota, St. Johns and Pasco – new weekly case counts are more than 10 times higher than they were before the start of the last school year.
In 31 counties, nearly half of Florida’s counties, new case counts were at least five times higher than they’d been before those counties started school in 2020.
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