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Coronavirus in Tampa Bay schools: a weekly update

Contagion reports continue on a slightly downward pace.
Students arrive at Newsome High in Lithia on October 22, 2020. The coronavirus spread reached 115 known cases since the school reopened in August.
Students arrive at Newsome High in Lithia on October 22, 2020. The coronavirus spread reached 115 known cases since the school reopened in August. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Feb. 20
Updated Feb. 20

Reports of coronavirus cases in Tampa Bay area schools continue to level downward as the school year progresses.

To date, there have been more than 10,000 cases in Hillsborough, Hernando, Pasco and Pinellas counties. But each week there seems to be a slight improvement.

Here is where the hot spots were this week. We list only with the largest number of cases, but all are reflected on the map below:

Hernando County: Twenty-two cases were reported in Hernando this week, and very few schools had more than one.

Five were reported at Springstead High, which has a total of 47 cases so far this school year.

Three cases were reported among support staff. Each of these schools reported two cases: Chocachatti Elementary, Nature Coast Technical High and Weeki Wachee High.

Hillsborough County: Of the week’s 243 cases in Hillsborough, Durant High led the district with 12.

Lennard High in Ruskin had eight cases. There were seven each at Hillsborough High, Martinez Middle and in the district offices.

A classroom at Durant High in a photo before the pandemic. More recently, the school led the district in the third week of February with 12 reported cases of the coronavirus. [Times (2019)]
A classroom at Durant High in a photo before the pandemic. More recently, the school led the district in the third week of February with 12 reported cases of the coronavirus. [Times (2019)]

These campuses had six cases each: Armwood, Freedom, Plant and Robinson high schools.

These had five cases each: Burnett Middle, Newsome High, Riverview High and Roland Park K-8.

These schools had four cases each: Broward Elementary, East Bay High, Lamb Elementary and Steinbrenner High.

Pasco County: There were 100 cases in Pasco County this week, the lowest number in several months. And more than 10 percent of the cases — 11 — were among virtual students in the program called MySchool Online.

Six cases were reported at J.W. Mitchell High and five at Chasco Middle School. Bexley Elementary, Paul R. Smith Middle and Wiregrass Ranch High each had four.

High schools show the highest rates of coronavirus in the public schools. But Bextley Elementary in Pasco has been relatively busy, with four cases this week and 42 for the year,  [Times (2017)]
High schools show the highest rates of coronavirus in the public schools. But Bextley Elementary in Pasco has been relatively busy, with four cases this week and 42 for the year, [Times (2017)]

Pinellas County: Between Monday and Thursday, the school district reported 129 cases. Friday’s cases will not be known until Monday.

Osceola Fundamental High had the single largest number, at 10. The school had to quarantine the varsity boys soccer team.

Nine staff cases were reported at the Walter Pownall Service Center.

Lealman Avenue Elementary School had seven cases.

East Lake High, Largo High and Palm Harbor Middle School each had five cases.

Workers move through the Walter Pownall Service Center in Pinellas County in a photo taken before the pandemic. The center has reported 71 staff cases of coronavirus this school year. Nine were in the third week of February. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times (2010)]
Workers move through the Walter Pownall Service Center in Pinellas County in a photo taken before the pandemic. The center has reported 71 staff cases of coronavirus this school year. Nine were in the third week of February. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times (2010)]

Countryside High, Safety Harbor Middle and Shore Acres Elementary each had four.

In a new development, the Pinellas district announced it will combat “confusion and message fatigue” by cutting down on the schoolwide messages that go out when there is a case, beginning Monday.

According to the message posted to the website, the district will continue to notify by phone and email “any student or staff member who is identified as a direct contact and must quarantine.”

Others at the schools should refer to the dashboard, which will now be linked to every school’s home page.

The areawide total for the week was 494 cases. To date, there have been 10,288 reported cases in the four districts since school began in August.

Colleges and universities:

Since Feb. 12, the University of South Florida reported that 14 students and six employees across the school’s campuses have tested positive. Cases listed are those that have been reported to the university and those who test positive at the Student Health Center.

Over the same time period, the University of Tampa has reported 15 student and four employee cases. St. Petersburg College reported eight cases across its 13 campuses and Hillsborough Community College reported 10 cases across its four campuses. Eckerd College reported one active case among residential students this week.

Recent reports:

Week ending Jan. 15

Week ending Jan. 22

Week ending Jan. 29

Week ending Feb. 5

Week ending Feb. 12

Staff writer Divya Kumar contributed to this report.