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Coronavirus in Tampa Bay schools: a weekly update

After a holiday spike, numbers of cases are beginning to fall.
School COVID-19 cases are on the rise in southeast Hillsborough County. This past week saw 11 cases at Wimauma Elementary School and 12 at Sumner High.
School COVID-19 cases are on the rise in southeast Hillsborough County. This past week saw 11 cases at Wimauma Elementary School and 12 at Sumner High. [ C.T. BOWEN | Tampa Bay Times ]
Published Jan. 16

The number of weekly coronavirus cases in Tampa Bay area schools is returning to levels seen in late November and early December, following an alarming spike after the winter break.

Quarantines and illnesses are still widespread, with some areas — Wimauma in southeast Hillsborough, for example — showing increased activity. But the frenzied pace of late December was not sustained as January progressed.

Here are the highlights for each local district:

Hernando County: With 43 cases this week, Hernando has improved to levels seen in early December, after reporting 71 cases in the week ending Dec. 18 and 54 cases in the week ending Jan. 8.

Nature Coast Technical High School, which has led the district throughout the school year, reported six cases this past week. Moton Elementary reported five. Floyd Elementary and Central High each had four cases. Powell Middle School and Spring Hill Elementary each had three.

Hillsborough County: Since Dec. 18, Hillsborough has been seeing more than 300 cases per week, with 14,000 distance learners expected to return to in-person instruction for the second semester.

Twenty-three of this week’s cases were concentrated in two schools in the rural southeast: Sumner High, with 12 cases for a year-end total of 61, and Wimauma Elementary, which had 11 cases and previously had only three for the school year. There were 11 cases each at Durant High and 10 at nearby Plant City High.

The school district offices reported 13 staff cases. To date, there have been 114.

Alonso High had 10 cases. These schools each had seven: Freedom, Steinbrenner and Strawberry Crest high schools and Mabry Elementary. Gaither and Robinson high schools each had six cases. These schools had five each: Armwood, Blake, Hillsborough, Jefferson, Newsome and Spoto high schools; and Bryant, Oak Grove, Trapnell and Westchase elementary schools.

Five cases of the coronavirus were reported this week at Hillsborough High, shown here on the first day of school. There have been 31 cases at the school since classes began on Aug. 31, and 3,561 districtwide.
Five cases of the coronavirus were reported this week at Hillsborough High, shown here on the first day of school. There have been 31 cases at the school since classes began on Aug. 31, and 3,561 districtwide. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]

Pasco County: The surge of cases that hit Sunlake, Wiregrass Ranch and Zephyrhills high schools in the fall months has slowed, but those three schools still show plenty of COVID-19 illness.

The biggest share of this week’s 184 cases was in mySchoolOnline, which reported 14 cases, all but one among students. There were 12 cases at J. W. Mitchell High, 11 at River Ridge High, 10 at Cypress Creek High and nine at Land O’Lakes High.

These schools had six cases each: Seven Springs Middle, Wiregrass Ranch High and Zephyrhills High. Fivay High and Wiregrass Elementary had five cases each.

Pinellas County: No single school in Pinellas stood out this week in case counts, with 118 reported districtwide.

Carwise Middle, along with Hollins, Largo and Osceola Fundamental high schools each had five cases. Boca Ciega, Countryside, East Lake and Lakewood high schools each had four cases, as did John Hopkins Middle, Plato Academy Pinellas Park Charter School and the Walter Pownall Service Center. Pinellas Park Middle School had three cases.

Hollins High School in St. Petersburg has had 19 cases of COVID-19 so far this school year. Five were reported this past week.
Hollins High School in St. Petersburg has had 19 cases of COVID-19 so far this school year. Five were reported this past week. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

At the close of Friday, the week-long total across all four school districts was 714. That did not include most private school cases, as private schools are not required to make their disclosures a public record. Since the beginning of the school year, when the Tampa Bay Times began tracking cases, there have been 7,507 cases reported in the four area districts.

Colleges and universities:

Since Jan. 10, the University of South Florida reported that 43 students and 17 employees across the school’s campuses have tested positive. 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 time period, St. Petersburg College reported 13 cases across its 13 campuses and Hillsborough Community College reported 19 cases across its four campuses. Eckerd College reported 18 active residential students and two employee cases since Jan. 4.

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

Week ending Oct. 11

Week ending Oct. 18

Week ending Oct. 23

Week ending Oct. 30

Week ending Nov. 6

Week ending Nov. 13

Week ending Nov. 20

Week ending Dec. 4

Week ending Dec. 11

Week ending Dec. 18

Week ending Jan. 9

Staff writer Divya Kumar contributed to this report.