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COVID-19 cases on the rise in schools in Palm Beach County

Posted at 6:33 PM, Dec 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-21 19:27:56-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The long winter break may be coming just in time for many schools districts as COVID-19 cases appear to be on the rise.

“I did actually meet with the superintendent this morning and it was the first thing we talked about,” said Palm Beach County School Board Member Erica Whitfield on Tuesday.

The district’s online COVID-19 dashboard does indicate some rising cases as the omicron variant seems to be spreading across the country.

On Monday, the district posted 170 students and 32 employees testing positive as winter break begins on Thursday.

“Since we can’t mandate masks and close schools, we’re really having to put the onus on the families to really try to protect themselves and not come to school if they’re sick,” Whitfield said.

As the end of year holidays approach, the University of Florida is predicting a new COVID-19 wave this winter, possibly peaking in February.

“The number of cases we see, they will be higher than any other surge we’ve seen, but how soon this will fall back down is tough to predict,” said UF Epidemiologist Dr. Kartik Cherabuddi.

“I can say my kid is wearing a mask when she goes to school again, I think with omicron the variant is concerning and you do everything you can,” Dr. Cherabuddi said.

Vaccination is considered a priority, especially among young children. According to the Mayo Clinic, the vaccination rate among 5 to 12-year-olds is lowest among all age groups at 12.5%.

It’s a number Palm Beach County’s Health Director Dr. Alina Alonso hopes to improve.

“We hope to vaccinate a lot more during the holidays,” she said.