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Pasco schools superintendent Kurt Browning tests positive for COVID-19

Browning has gone into isolation at home.
Pasco schools superintendent Kurt Browning, in the foreground, wears a mask at the School Board's meeting on June 16.
Pasco schools superintendent Kurt Browning, in the foreground, wears a mask at the School Board's meeting on June 16. [ JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK | Times ]
Published Jun. 22, 2020
Updated Jun. 22, 2020

LAND O’ LAKES — Pasco County schools superintendent Kurt Browning announced through his office on Monday that he was diagnosed as having the coronavirus.

Browning experienced symptoms on Friday, including fever, chills and general achiness, and decided to get tested, district spokesman Steve Hegarty said.

“He’s resting at home,” Hegarty said. “He is at home in isolation.”

Deputy superintendent Ray Gadd is running the district in Browning’s absence.

Browning, 61, had been going into his office regularly to conduct district business. However, Hegarty said, most of his interactions were held at a distance and in small numbers.

The majority of meetings were run through video conference calls.

As a result, Hegarty said, the Department of Health told the district staff that it did not sound as if they were at risk of infection. They are not being instructed to be tested, he said.

Browning generally has worn masks in public settings, such as when he attended Gov. Ron DeSantis’ school reopening announcement in Brevard County, and at the Pasco School Board’s most recent meeting.

He recently told parents in a PTA Zoom call that he did not expect to mandate masks in schools when they reopen. District staff continues to debate that topic.

Browning was not immediately available for comment.

Meanwhile, School Board chairwoman Colleen Beaudoin said she was not considering a return to telephonic board meetings, so long as “we’re social distancing and wearing masks.”

The board has a workshop on school reopening scheduled for 4 p.m. June 30.

UPDATE: Beaudoin said later Monday that the workshop will be conducted telephonically, since the superintendent will not be able to attend in person and “he’s an integral part of the meeting.” She noted that the one time the board attempted to do a blended in-person/conference call meeting, “it did not go well.”

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