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COVID-19: 1,300+ Treasure Coast students switched to online learning in first month of school

Contact 5 reviews numbers from Okeechobee County, Treasure Coast
Posted at 8:40 AM, Sep 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-22 07:08:00-04

VERO BEACH, Fla. — In the first month of school, more than 1,300 students have self-quarantined and transitioned to virtual learning on the Treasure Coast and in Okeechobee County after contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, according to numbers reviewed by Contact 5.

At Oslo Middle School in Vero Beach, it's happened more than once. Nineteen students were sent home Sept. 8, 11 students were sent home Sept. 9 and another 23 students transition to online learning Sept. 16.

In total, around one in 20 students at the middle school have switched to remote learning because they came in contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus.

"It's very disruptive," Vero Beach parent Krystal McIntyre said.

McIntyre is a mother of two. Her 5-year-old and 8-year old sons attend a charter school. She's part of the 38% of parents in Indian River County who chose to keep their kids learning from home this school year.

Krystal McIntyre chose to keep her students learning virtually because of concern about disruptions with quarantine transitions
Krystal McIntyre opted for online learning for her two sons, not out of fear of them contracting COVID-19, but because of concerns about suddenly quarantining and how it could impact their education.

She opted for online learning for her two sons, not out of fear of them contracting COVID-19, but because of concerns about suddenly quarantining and how it could impact their education.

"I anticipated either one of them getting sent home soon, whether a classmate or teacher got tested positive," McIntyre told Contact 5.

Olso Middle School appears to be an outlier. Numbers reviewed by Contact 5 show high school students have self-quarantined more than elementary and middle school students since the start of this school year.

Dr. David Moore, the superintendent for the School District of Indian River County, told Contact 5 that the district and most parents were prepared for the possibility of student and teacher quarantines.

"There hasn't been a great deal of push back," Moore noted in an interview. "Our families have been very understanding and supportive and appreciative of how quick we're providing that information."

The number of students transitioning to self-quarantine has varied by school and district.

In Martin County, as of Friday at 4 p.m., 577 students in the public school district have self-quarantined after contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. There were 412 students in St. Lucie County, 167 students in Okeechobee County and 225 students in Indian River County. Martin County announced Monday that another 201 students were transitioning to remote learning, bringing the total in the district to 778.

Those numbers are expected to climb throughout the school year.

Moore told Contact 5 the district will continue to push safe practices and hopes to keep the number of quarantines as low as possible during this lingering pandemic.

More than 1,500 students quarantined on Treasure Coast

"Right now, to this point, we haven't had any problems we couldn't solve," Moore said, telling Contact 5 students in the district are keeping on schedule and not falling behind when they are forced to adapt to virtual learning. "Those are problems we pre-identified. Each and every time, we become better at the process."

McIntyre hopes her kids can return to the classroom but said she needs to see a drop in both the number of COVID-19 cases and quarantines.

In the meantime, she worries about parents who are unable to work from home and how the sudden switch to online learning for two weeks could disrupt not just their children's education, but also their daily routines.

"Who's going to come and watch your kid when they're home because they maybe have corona?" McIntyre questioned. "There's nobody that's going to come and risk that for you."

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