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East County Thursday, Sep. 3, 2020 7 months ago

School District of Manatee County creates COVID-19 dashboard

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Six East County schools have reported at least one confirmed case of COVID-19 since first day of school.
by: Liz Ramos Staff Writer

The School District of Manatee County has created a dashboard to update the public on confirmed COVID-19 cases in its schools. 

Classes started Aug. 17 in Manatee County. The district refrained from releasing details related to confirmed cases due to patient privacy and student privacy concerns. 

"In balancing privacy concerns with the public's need to know, we have determined that providing a dashboard of confirmed cases by school still protects confidentiality while providing important information related to specific schools," according to a news release from the School District of Manatee County.

The dashboard includes the number of confirmed cases in each school and support site and the total number of cases since Aug. 17.

"The dashboard will help our parents and employees understand how COVID-19 is impacting our schools and school district on a daily basis as well as over time," said Cynthia Saunders, the superintendent of the district, in a news release. "We are still committed to protecting the medical privacy rights of individuals impacted by COVID-19, and we believe the dashboard will provide useful insight while also protecting individual confidentiality."

The district worked with the Florida Department of Health in Manatee to develop and operate a District Operations Center the School Support Center to provide information for schools and support sites. 

District safety and security personnel and personnel from the Department of Health in Manatee County operate the center.

When principals report a confirmed case, personnel from the center immediately begin a contract tracing investigation to identify individuals on campus who had direct exposure to the confirmed case.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, direct exposure is anyone who has had close contact of less than six feet with a person known to have COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes, starting from 48 hours before the person began feeling sick until the time the confirm case is isolated.

Those in school who are identified as having had direct exposure to a confirmed case are notified by their school. Elementary school administrators call students' parents to inform them their student must quarantine for 14 days from the date of last known exposure. Parents of middle or high school students are informed by letter, phone or both. 

The school also sends out a Connect-Ed phone message or email to all employees and parents to let them know there has been a confirmed case on their campus.

As of Sept. 3, Lakewood Ranch High School, Braden River and R. Dan Nolan middle schools and B.D. Gullett, Tara and Robert E. Willis elementary schools have had at least one confirmed case on campus since the start of school.

Manatee Technical College has had five confirmed cases between all its campuses. 

The district has had a total of 38 confirmed cases across its 56 schools and support sites. 

The dashboard can be found on www.ManateeSchools.net

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