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Coronavirus strikes Pinellas schools operations center

The Walter Pownall Center serves police, warehouses and other district functions

LARGO — Eight cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed at a single Pinellas County school office center since the new school year began.

The school district has reported cases at the Walter Pownall Administrative Center, at 11111 Belcher Road, nearly every day since Aug 24. Three were disclosed on Tuesday, in a list that included reports from the weekend.

The eight, all affecting staff, are the largest number at a single site since the Tampa Bay Times began tracking the cases in Hillsborough, Hernando, Pasco and Pinellas counties. The Times’ database does not include cases at school facilities during the summer, but began the count as classes resumed.

Details about the employees and their job duties were not available, as districts are giving out only basic statistics about COVID-19 cases to protect patient privacy.

More than 1,100 people work at the Pownall center, according to the district’s human resources office. Departments based there include transportation, facilities and construction, food and nutrition, safety and security and district maintenance. The complex includes warehouses for school materials.

Since students returned to school, the Times has confirmed 51 COVID-19 cases including the eight at Pownall. These do not include possible cases in Hernando County, which opened schools Monday and has not yet released information.

Some districts are providing more information than others when it comes to measures they have taken to contain the spread.

For example: On Tuesday, the Pasco district reported that a student case at West Zephyrhills Elementary School affected 23 students and three staff. In Pinellas on Monday, a student case at Boca Ciega High School resulted in quarantines in three classes.

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