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COVID-19 in Tampa Bay schools: a weekly update

The count stands at 106 cases since schools began to reopen on Aug 24.

Hillsborough and Hernando counties opened their schools to students on Monday. By week’s end, there were more than 100 cases of COVID-19 confirmed, including those in Pasco and Pinellas counties, which opened for in-person learning on Aug. 24. All four districts now have online dashboards.

Let’s have a look, county by county.

Hernando: The area’s smallest district constructed a dashboard that breaks out cases school by school and day by day, indicating whether the patients are staff or students. A summary of cases so far: An employee case at Springstead High on Monday; one employee case each at Nature Coast Technical High and in Adult Education on Tuesday; a student case at Central High on Wednesday; and an employee case at Moton Elementary on Thursday.

This is a sample of the all-school notices that will be sent out by the Hernando County schools. [ Hernando County School District ]

Hillsborough: In the interest of transparency — and discouraging rumors — the Hillsborough district unveiled its public dashboard of school COVID-19 cases at the start of the week. It offers a day-by-day accounting of staff and student cases, by school. But it does not include quarantine statistics.

This week, four cases were reported at Bryan Elementary and three at a school district office.

Two cases each were reported at Claywell Elementary, Burns Middle, Jefferson, Steinbrenner and Hillsborough high schools. At Hillsborough, there was a partial quarantine of the football team.

One case each was reported at Citrus Park, Clair Mel, Kimbell, Knights, Lopez, Morgan Woods, Riverhills, Stowers, Tampa Palms, Trapnell and Valrico elementary schools; Buchanan, Burnett, Davidsen, Eisenhower, Hill, Marshall, Pierce and Wilson middle schools; and Bloomingdale, Freedom, Gaither, and Tampa Bay Technical high schools. A staff case was reported at the Focus Academy charter school.

Students arrive at Burnett Middle School in Seffner on Monday, Aug. 31. A student COVID-19 case was reported at Burnett on Wednesday. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

Pasco: On Monday, Pasco, which offers an in-depth dashboard that includes quarantine information, reported a student case at Bexley Elementary that affected 54 students and two employees. On Tuesday, a student case at West Zephyrhills Elementary affected 23 students and three staff; and a case at Shady Hills Elementary, affecting two students and four staff. There were also two virtual students with COVID-19 and an employee at one of the district offices. Cases were reported Wednesday at Pasco, Mary Giella and Schrader elementary schools and at Gulf and Rushe middle, affecting a total of 115 students and 11 employees.

A third virtual student case was reported Thursday, along with one for a student at Crews Lake Middle School. On Friday, there was a student case at Zephyrhills High that affected 119 students and 10 staff; a student case at Gulf Highland Elementary that affected 11 students and six staff; a case at Mittye Locke Elementary affecting 47 students and three staff; and a staff case at Pine View Middle that affected 17 students and one employee. A student case Friday at West Zephyrhills Elementary - the second in the school year - affected four students. And a student case was reported at Trinity Elementary, affecting 17 students and one employee.

Pasco was also the site of the area’s first known coronavirus-related school closing for 2020-21. A student case at Pinecrest Academy, a brand-new charter school with 627 students, sent everybody home in the latter part of the week. After a deep cleaning, Pinecrest will reopen Tuesday.

Not including the situation at Pinecrest, Pasco officials say their COVID-19 cases have affected 499 students and 54 employees since the start of school.

Students cross Louisiana Avenue while walking to Gulf Middle School on Monday, Aug. 24. A COVID-19 case was confirmed at Gulf Middle on Wednesday. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

Pinellas: This week, cases began to add up at the Walter Pownall Administrative Services Center, with three on Monday following five the week before. Also on Monday there was one case each at Bardmoor, Ozona and Pinellas elementary schools and two staff cases at Clearwater Intermediate School. Boca Ciega, Largo and Pinellas Park high schools each saw one case that day. Ten classes were quarantined at Clearwater, Boca Ciega and Pinellas Park Elementary.

On Wednesday, there were single cases at Largo and St. Petersburg high schools, Sutherland Elementary and James B. Sanderlin PK-8. The combined quarantine impact on that day was 14 classrooms, including seven at St. Pete High. The district also had to quarantine a bus from Largo High.

On Thursday, the district confirmed cases at Maximo Elementary, a third case at Clearwater Intermediate, an employee case at Walsingham Elementary and an employee case at Safety Harbor Elementary.

Seven classrooms were quarantined because of a student COVID-19 case that was reported Wednesday at St. Petersburg High School, where students returned to school on Aug. 24. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]
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The total number of cases in the four-county area at the end of the first reporting week was 19. At the end of this week, it was 87, for a grand total of 106.

The Times is also keeping an eye on the area’s colleges and universities.

Since the University of South Florida started its fall semester on Aug. 24, 34 students and six employees across the school’s three campuses have tested positive. Cases listed are those that students, faculty or the health department report to the university. It is not known which are self-isolating on campus, and which are off campus.

Since the University of Tampa began listing positive cases on Aug. 28, 24 students have tested positive. Cases reported are those who self-report or are diagnosed at the student health center. The individuals listed are self-isolating on campus.

Staff Writer Divya Kumar contributed to this report.