Published 1:28 PM EDT Aug 25, 2020
There were 15 cases of COVID-19 reported at 12 different Brevard County schools in the weeks leading up to the start of the school year, according to an inquiry by the Brevard Federation of Teachers union.
In a news release Monday evening, teachers union officials reported the results of a public records request filed with Brevard Public Schools for the numbers of positive cases among district employees and the school sites where they worked.
Between Aug. 7 and Aug. 20, at least 15 school employees were diagnosed positive for COVID-19 at 12 sites throughout the county, the results showed. Cases were reported at:
Cambridge ElementaryClearlake Education CenterColumbia ElementaryCreel ElementaryEndeavour ElementaryEducational Services Facility (School Board headquarters)Heritage High School Jackson Middle SchoolMILA ElementarySatellite High SchoolSpace Coast Jr/Sr High SchoolSuntree Elementary
An additional 11 employees at six schools (Astronaut High School; Atlantis Elementary; Bayside High School; Quest Elementary; Suntree Elementary; and Space Coast Hr/Sr High School) were required to quarantine due to exposure to a case among a “close familial relationship.”
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A school district spokesperson confirmed the results of the inquiry Tuesday, saying it filled the union’s request Aug. 18.
The release came the same day Brevard County students reported for the first day of class.
It also came the same day a circuit judge in Tallahassee ruled a July 6 state order requiring Florida brick-and-mortar schools to be open during the pandemic was unconstitutional.
The outcome handed a victory to the Florida Education Association, which filed suit against the state last month. The state union argued the order ran afoul of a mandate under the Florida Constitution that students are entitled to a “safe” and “secure” learning environment.
In his 17-page decision, Circuit Judge Charles Dodson granted a request for a court order to bar enforcement of the directive from Gov. Ron DeSantis and state Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, which tied state funding to compliance with the order.
The decision was put on hold Monday evening following an appeal filed by the state.
“Today’s ruling by Judge Dodson means that the School Board of Brevard County can now make decisions to close or open schools based on safety and advice from medical experts, not based on a Tallahassee politician dangling dollar signs above students’ heads,” Brevard Federation of Teachers Vice President Vanessa Skipper said in a statement.
“Nothing can replace the experience of a teacher in front of students in the classroom, but we must not put money before student, faculty, and staff safety.”
If the ruling is upheld, it was not immediately clear what that would mean for Brevard Public Schools, which has already resumed regular operations.
This story is developing. Check back for updates.
The Tallahassee Democrat’s James Call contributed to this report.
Eric Rogers is the education watchdog reporter for FLORIDA TODAY. Please consider subscribing to support important local news on education, business, crime and other topics you care about.
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