UPDATED: October 8, 2020 at 1:39 p.m. with official response from Palm Beach County School District.
BY: ANDREW COLTON | Editor and Publisher
BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — Calusa Elementary School administrators today are telling parents of a positive COVID-19 test involving someone on campus, but apparently withheld that information for several days. It is unclear if the infected person is a student or employee. The person is only identified as “an individual on our campus.” The choice of words is contrary to Palm Beach County School District protocols which call for identifying the individual as a student or employee. A “student” or “employee” designation is made on the school district’s own COVID-19 reporting site.
It was not immediately clear when Principal Diane Rivelli-Schreiber knew of the positive test. Her letter to parents, obtained by BocaNewsNow.com, says contact tracing is over and the person was last on campus on October 2nd. That suggests knowledge of the positive case for several days.
Schreiber’s word choice is similar to a robocall made by Whispering Pines Elementary School Principal Barbara Riemer. She alerted parents Wednesday night to a COVID-19 case on the school’s campus — several days after it appeared on the school district’s COVID-19 dashboard. The language, however, differs from letter obtained by BocaNewsNow.com from other Palm Beach County which specify student or staff member.
After this article first appeared, Palm Beach County School District Spokesperson Claudia Shea provided this statement to BocaNewsNow.com:
“Moving forward we are going to streamline the process in an effort to share information with parents and staff as quickly as possible. As soon as a case is confirmed, principals will share that information schoolwide,” wrote Shea. “At that point, the case will also be added to the dashboard (by 11:30 p.m.). After the Health Department completes contact tracing, there will be another schoolwide email alerting parents and staff that if they weren’t contacted by health officials they were not in close contact with the individual.”
BocaNewsNow.com has reported for days — in a series of exclusive articles — that district officials are blaming the Florida Department of Health for responding slowly to COVID-19 reports in schools. The slowdown, according to school officials, is leading to a delay in alerting parents. The delayed information is making it difficult for parents to assess just what is happening in schools as the school district is requiring them to make a binding “in person” or “distance learning” decision that will last until January.
We are publishing the Calusa letter below. Here is the key language:
“I’m writing to inform you that individual on our campus, as recently as Friday, October 2nd, 2020, tested positive for COVID-19. The Florida Department of Health has completed its contact tracing protocol. Anyone who in proximity to this person has been notified by DOH and instructed regarding next steps as determined by health officials.”
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