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Coronavirus in Tampa Bay schools: a weekly update

Nearly 900 students and staff have been diagnosed with COVID-19, with quarantines affecting as many as 15,000.

The growth in school-based cases of coronavirus continues to accelerate, with 113 this past week in Hillsborough County alone. Cases are appearing in clusters, with almost as many being reported among staff as there are among students. As children often do not exhibit symptoms, there could be many more student cases than the schools know about.

Here is how things broke down this week in the four Tampa Bay area school districts:

Hernando County: The area’s northernmost county reported eight cases this week, with three of them at Springstead High. There were two cases at Nature Coast Technical High, following six the previous week, and one case each at Pine Grove Elementary, Powell Middle and Winding Waters K-8.

Hillsborough County: Seven student cases were reported at Plant High this week; six staff cases at Riverview High; and five at the Independence Academy charter school, a combination of students and staff.

There were four cases each at Buchanan and Randall middle schools, and at Alonso High. There were three cases each at Ruskin Elementary; Marshall Middle; and at Newsome, and Plant City High. The school district offices also had three cases, as did the Willis Peters ESE Center.

There were two cases each at Cleveland, Jackson, Knights and Valrico elementary schools; Barrington and Burns middle schools; and Blake, Brandon, East Bay, Hillsborough, Jefferson, Robinson and Steinbrenner high schools. The Learning Gate charter school had two cases.

These Hillsborough schools had one case each:

Bay Crest, Belmont, Citrus Park, Grady, Oak Grove, Potter, Robinson, Schmidt, Sessums, Shore, Summerfield, Summerfield Crossing, Town & Country, Walden Lake, Westchase, West Tampa and Woodbridge elementary schools; Mann, Mulrennan, Smith, Sligh, Tomlin and Young middle schools; Lutz K-8; and Sickles, Spoto and Sumner high schools.

Also with one case each were Carver ESE Center; the Waters Career Center; charter schools Bridgeprep Academy at Tampa, Focus Academy, Pivot and SLAM; and the adult career services center.

Pasco County: Five cases were reported in MySchool Online.

Two each were reported at Gulfside Elementary and at Gulf and Pasco high schools.

These schools had one case each: Connerton, Longleaf, Rodney B. Cox, San Antonio, Seven Oaks, Watergrass an West Zephyrhills Elementary; Cypress Creek, John Long and River Ridge middle schools; Hudson, River Ridge, Sunlake and Wesley Chapel High.

Pinellas County: There were five cases at Osceola Fundamental High and four at St. Petersburg High. There were two cases at the Walter Pownall Administrative Center, which had been relatively quiet after a rash of cases in the first two weeks of school.

There was one case each at Curtis Fundamental, Dunedin, Forest Lakes, High Point, Oakhurst, San Jose and Walsingham elementary schools; Clearwater Fundamental, Meadowlawn, Oak Grove and Osceola middle schools; Discovery Academy of Science; and several high schools: East Lake, Gibbs, Northeast, Palm Harbor University, Pinellas Park, St. Petersburg Collegiate and Tarpon Springs.

Volleyball teams had to be quarantined at St. Petersburg and Osceola Fundamental high schools.

The total for the week in the four school districts was 178 cases, not including Friday’s cases in Pinellas County.

There have been 884 cases of COVID-19 since students returned to school in late August.

Colleges and universities:

Over the last week, the University of South Florida reported that 25 students and two employees across the school’s campuses have tested positive for the virus. Cases listed are those that students, faculty or the health department report to the university and those who test positive at the Student Health Center.

Over the same period, the University of Tampa reported that 121 students and two employees have tested positive. The school also reported 283 of its 435 reported cases from the beginning of the semester have recovered and are “symptom free and not contagious.” Cases counted are those who self-report or are diagnosed at the student health center.

The university sent an email to students, faculty and staff this week saying “the risk of our campus community being overwhelmed by the pandemic is still very real.” The school attributed the anticipated uptick to “general complacency” at “bars, clubs and restaurants, house parties and city-wide events.”

The surge comes the week after mass gatherings took place across downtown Tampa as fans celebrated the Tampa Bay Lightning winning the Stanley Cup. The University of Tampa’s dean for students also urged students to remain vigilant in following health guidelines, saying: “While the pull of bars and clubs is strong, the vitality of the UT community is even stronger.”

Previous reports:

Week ending Aug. 28

Week ending Sept. 4

Week ending Sept. 11

Week ending Sept. 18

Week ending Sept. 25

Week ending Oct. 4

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