BocaNewsNow.com’s Exclusive Report Not Disputed By Health Officials.
BY: ANDREW COLTON | Editor and Publisher
BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — BocaNewsNow.com reported exclusively Wednesday that the Palm Beach County School District is facing significant delays in confirming COVID-19 positive students and staff members because the Florida Department of Health is moving slowly when it comes to test confirmation and contact tracing. Our report revealed that it’s taking days, and in some cases a week, between the time a principal or other administrator is notified of a positive test and the time the Department of Health confirms the test and tells the school district it’s okay to tell the public.
Florida Department of Health for Palm Beach County spokesperson Alexander Shaw didn’t respond to a request for comment on Tuesday, a day before we ran the story. Shaw finally responded Thursday morning and did not deny the report.
“When the Department of Health receives notification that a person has tested positive for COVID-19, the department conducts an extensive epidemiological to identify individuals who may have had close contact with the virus.”
Shaw provided generic information, but notably avoided specific questions regarding the Palm Beach County School District.
“Those individuals are then notified by their county health department and instructed to self-isolate for 14 days after their exposure to the virus, and to contact their county health department and health care provider immediately if they develop symptoms. This process is followed for all individuals who test positive in Florida.”
The Palm Beach County School District launched a “COVID-19 dashboard” once children returned to in-person learning several weeks ago. But the dashboard, which is supposed to be updated each night between 11 and midnight, is often untouched, raising questions about its accuracy. Even when the numbers are updated, those with knowledge of COVID-19 tests and reports in specific schools say the information is inaccurate.
“Our goal is transparency,” said Palm Beach County School spokesperson Claudia Shea when asked about issues with COVID-19 reporting. “We are still working on the notification process. The goal is for the (COVID-19) dashboard to be updated and students, parents and staff (to be) notified as quickly as possible.”
Principals say they’re on the receiving end of blame.
“It’s not us,” said an assistant principal from a Palm Beach County School to BocaNewsNow.com. “We want to release the information, but it’s taking days and (Superintendent) Fennoy’s office is providing no help or guidance whatsoever. We don’t know what we can say and when we can say it.”
Case in point: the principal of Whispering Pines Elementary School in West Boca Raton only reported a COVID-19 positive test regarding a faculty member via a robocall Wednesday night. The case was on the school district’s dashboard on Monday. The robocall included no information about the case — only that it’s a member of the “school community.”
The School District’s communications office did not immediate provide explanation about why the principal provided less information than what was already on the COVID-19 dashboard.
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