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Coronavirus in Tampa Bay schools: a weekly update

Cases of COVID-19 continue to add up, but at a slower rate.
Sumner High School in Balm, shown here when it was still under construction last spring, was busy with COVID-19 this week. Eight cases have been reported since Jan. 16, making 79 so far for the school year.
Sumner High School in Balm, shown here when it was still under construction last spring, was busy with COVID-19 this week. Eight cases have been reported since Jan. 16, making 79 so far for the school year. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Jan. 23

The growth in school-based coronavirus cases in the Tampa Bay area has leveled off at a rate slightly lower than in December, but well above the first several months of the school year. With more students returning to in-person learning for the second semester, it is unclear what will happen in more crowded conditions.

Here is what the numbers were like this past week:

Hernando County: The 31 coronavirus cases in Hernando show an improvement over the last several weeks, when the weekly count rose as high as 71.

There were four cases each at Central High and Nature Coast Technical High since Jan. 16. There were three at D.S. Parrott Middle School and two each at Chocachatti Elementary, Eastside Elementary, Explorer K-8, Floyd Elementary, Pine Grove Elementary, Powell Middle and Springstead High School.

Hillsborough County: Numbers remain high in the area’s largest district and, to get a clearer picture, it helps to consult the Tampa Bay Times’ interactive map. This display shows monthly totals, and makes it possible to see where coronavirus is spreading at any given time.

These schools have had more than 20 cases each since students returned from winter break on Jan. 4: Sumner High, which led the district with 36; Alonso High (31), Plant City High (27) and Durant High (23). Contrast that with the first 18 days of December, when the leaders were Leto High with 24 cases, Armwood High with 19, and Plant and Steinbrenner high schools with 18 each.

This week, the busiest school for coronavirus was Alonso High, with 10 cases. There were nine staff cases in the school district offices and eight each at Durant, Riverview and Sumner high schools.

These schools had seven cases each: Freedom High, Pepin Academies, Plant City High and Sunlake Academy of Math and Sciences. Steinbrenner High had six and is closing in on 100 cases, with 98 since the Aug. 31 reopening.

These schools had five cases each: Channelside Academy of Math and Sciences, East Bay High, Farnell Middle, Gorrie Elementary and Smith Middle.

Hillsborough County School District maintenance workers Ralph Frank Sarcone, left, and Verny Mela Molina install a hand sanitizer dispenser at Gorrie Elementary in March. Gorrie had five coronavirus cases in the week ending Jan. 22.
Hillsborough County School District maintenance workers Ralph Frank Sarcone, left, and Verny Mela Molina install a hand sanitizer dispenser at Gorrie Elementary in March. Gorrie had five coronavirus cases in the week ending Jan. 22. [ MARLENE SOKOL | Times ]

Pasco County: Unlike the other districts, Pasco keeps count of its COVID-19 cases in its distance-learning program, MySchool Online. There were 12 this week. So far this school year, including students in Pasco eSchool, there have been 152 cases.

Members of the Mitchell High School marching band drumline practice indoors after school on Sept. 10 in New Port Richey. The school reported 10 coronavirus cases in the week ending Jan. 22.
Members of the Mitchell High School marching band drumline practice indoors after school on Sept. 10 in New Port Richey. The school reported 10 coronavirus cases in the week ending Jan. 22. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

There were 10 cases this week at J.W. Mitchell High, but, as in past weeks, no extraordinary numbers at any of the other high schools.

There were six cases each at Rodney B. Cox Elementary and Sunlake High. There were five each at Cypress Creek, Pasco and River Ridge high schools. These schools had four cases each: Anclote High, Chasco Elementary, Cypress Creek Middle, Fivay High, Pasco Middle and Zephyrhills High.

Pinellas County: Other than Boca Ciega High, which has seen 41 cases of COVID-19 this school year, there were small numbers of cases in Pinellas’ individual public schools and 123 cases districtwide. Boca Ciega reported 10 cases on Monday and an 11th on Thursday.

Osceola Fundamental High had five cases.

These schools had four cases each: East Lake High, Palm Harbor University High and Pinellas Park Middle School. These schools had three cases each: Clearwater High, Dunedin High. Pinellas Park Elementary, Pinellas Technical College in St. Petersburg and Starkey Elementary.

Over the last week, the total number of school cases tracked by the Tampa Bay Times in the four-county area is 625, not including Friday’s Pinellas cases, which will not be known until Monday. The year-to-date total is 8,201.

Colleges and universities:

Since Jan. 15, the University of South Florida reported that 73 students and 10 employees across the school’s campuses have tested positive for the coronavirus. 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 has reported 20 student cases and three employee cases. St. Petersburg College reported 14 cases across its 13 campuses and Hillsborough Community College reported 25 cases across its four campuses. Eckerd College reported 26 active cases among residential students this week.

Previous reports:

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

Week ending Jan. 15

Staff writer Divya Kumar contributed to this report.