PALM CITY, Fla. — Martin County School Superintendent Dr. John Millay helped break ground on a new elementary school in Palm City Monday.
“It’s a great investment by the taxpayers of this community," said Dr. Millay.
The school will be complete in August 2023, but in August of 2021, the news surrounding schools is centered on COVID and masks.
“Our schools are safe. We’re taking care of all our protocols. We’re watching our mitigation strategies," he said.
As of Monday, the total number of confirmed COVID cases in Martin County schools is 36. Last year, the first five school days saw only 7 total cases.
“We’re watching that each day. We’re working with local health department. We’re working with the department of education and other state authorities," said Dr. Millay.
Elsewhere on the Treasure Coast, since the start of the school year, Indian River County reported 20 positive cases of 12 staff and 8 students.
St. Lucie County reports 40 staff and 73 positive student cases.
David Freeland, President of the Education Association of St. Lucie, said they aren't having teachers call out, but there are some attendance issues because they're quarantined.
“A lot of the same kind of angst amongst our members, how are we going to socially distance, how are we going to protect ourselves," said Freeland.
Freeland said he sees a potential work slowdown, as more people become sick.
The union and the school district worked together this summer to provide a new COVID 19 relief program for school staff.
"If anybody gets sick through contact at work, they get 10 days of COVID leave before they have to use sick leave or other leaves," said Freeland.
The school board’s decision last week to require staff to mask up also created some conflict among union members.
“They don’t understand why they have to mask and students have a choice. That’s a minefield to try and negotiate," said Freedland. “We are hoping to get through this as unscathed as possible."