MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami-Dade County Public Schools is reconvening its public health and medical expert task force as the number of positive COVID-19 cases continues to rise in schools.
“We are concerned regarding the significant increase that we’ve seen specific to positivity rates in Miami Dade. In fact, the last data for Miami Dade County registers an 8.66% positivity rate with a 14-day average of 7.59%, stated Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho while talking to reporters on Monday.
The task force is comprised of “notables from our community and beyond.” In fact, Dr. Vivek Murthy, who is part of the transition teams advisory team to the President-Elect is part of our task force. It’s our intent to reconvene them fairly swiftly, present all of the data that is available and obtain recommendations from us about moving forward,” said Carvalho.
According to the Miami-Dade County Public Schools dashboard, there are 548 positive coronavirus cases. There are 360 students and 188 employees who have tested positive for the virus since Oct.5 when students returned to campuses and in-person instruction.
In the last 30 days, 298 students and 117 employees have contracted the virus.
With 300,000 students and close to 40,000 employees, Carvalho said “that’s a relatively small number, but not to be ignored.”
He said 45% of that student population is back on campus and receiving in-person instruction and 55% is learning virtually through (MSO) My School Online.
He said at this point, they cannot trace a single case or infection to a school site or workplace.
WATCH: MDCPS Superintendent Alberto Carvalho news conference
According to the dashboard, Miami Senior High has the highest number of confirmed cases with 15. That’s followed by Coral Reef Senior High with 12 and Bob Graham K-8 Educational Center with 11. Eugenia B. Thomas K-8 Center, John A. Ferguson Senior High and Miami Lakes K-8 Center all have 9 cases each.
Some schools have hundreds of students and teachers in quarantine because of possible exposure to the coronavirus, even though there may not be a large number of cases posted on the dashboard.
Miami-Dade Schools officials have previously said the dashboard “is not intended to be a real-time system for tracking self-reported employee and confirmed student cases.”
School officials are notifying parents in schools with positive cases with robocalls and reaching out to parents of children who may have come into contact with those who tested positive for the virus.
Parents should be checking their children every morning for symptoms and employees should be filling out their self-assessment health tests every single day.
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In Broward County, the school district’s COVID-19 dashboard shows there have been 448 total cases, 232 students and 216 staff, since Oct. 9 when students returned to campuses and in-person instruction.
In the last 30 days, 224 students and 207 employees have contracted the virus.
The rising numbers concern Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie but said Monday “there’s no indication that the preponderance of those cases are occurring within the school environment itself.”
About 25% of our student population have returned for face to face in classroom instruction, according to Runcie but the issue, he claims, is not the schools.
“We know that folks are engaging in activities outside of school and those are the things that put our school system at risk to remain open, it’s what goes on in the larger community.”
The upcoming holidays will be crucial.
“When it comes to social distancing, especially now that we’re coming up on the holidays, Thanksgiving, followed by the winter break, those are going to be some crucial times for us. But we’re already seeing numbers going up now. But we can’t be complacent, given where we were because we see what that’s doing.”
He says schools are safe but there’s no such thing as 100% safe.
“The cases that we’ve documented so far, we work with the Department of Public Health, and we’re continuing to work with them through their contact tracing, and epidemiologists to track down these things. And we haven’t seen anything today that says our schools are providing significant transmission by being open. Now, again, that risk of that continues to change as we move on into this pandemic and as numbers rise it continues to be a concern.”
So for now, there are no plans to shut down schools but the district will continue to take “a very strategic and tactical approach to dealing with this. If we identify specific classrooms, where individuals that were affected and tested positive were connected, we have quarantined and isolated folks based on our protocols, if necessary, we’ll do entire classrooms. If necessary, we will then go and work and isolate entire and test entire schools if need be. But in terms of shutting down the whole entire county, I don’t believe that we’re at a point where we need to consider it this moment. But that may change as we continue to move forward.”
WATCH: Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie news conference
According to the Broward Schools dashboard, the most coronavirus cases are at Western High which has 18. Cooper City High and Cypress Bay High both have 13. Deerfield Beach High has 12 and Fort Lauderdale High has 10.
There is also a statewide dashboard from the Florida Department of Health, but the total number of cases on both dashboards don’t match. According to a Miami-Dade County Public Schools spokesperson, the reason they don’t match is because the schools dashboard only shows the students and employees who are attending in-person classes and not virtual learning, while the state dashboard includes all employees and students, whether they are at home or going to school.