Disturbing Allegation By Parents. No Denial By School District.
BY: ANDREW COLTON | Editor and Publisher
BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — Palm Beach County School District officials knew that a first grade student in a Boca Raton elementary school class was positive for COVID-19 but didn’t tell that student’s classmates or teacher of possible exposure for at least a day. It is a stunning allegation from parents contacting BocaNewsNow.com. The school district is not denying the claim. We are not identifying the elementary school at this time.
Sources familiar with the matter said that school district knew that the child was COVID-19 positive on Thursday but didn’t tell that student’s teacher or parents of his or her classmates, instead opting to let the Florida Department of Health notify those who may have been exposed as part of its contact tracing. We have reported extensively that contact tracing is taking days, and at times a week, when involving the Palm Beach County School District.
Unaware that they may have been exposed to COVID-19, the remaining four students in the class, and their first grade teacher, were moved to another classroom in the school building Friday morning. They were only told that their normal classroom had to be cleaned. Parents had no idea that they were sending their children to school to be a part of a class where a classmate had tested positive for COVID-19. The teacher had no idea that his or her student had tested positive.
The incident highlights what BocaNewsNow.com reported several times during the week: the Palm Beach County School District is not sharing information with parents and employees in real-time, potentially leading to the continued spread of COVID-19 in the school community. Teachers are being placed at risk as infection information is kept under seal in the name of privacy.
Principals are not to blame. BocaNewsNow.com has also reported several times that school-level administrators say they are being placed in the untenable position of following school district mandates that seem to be designed to slow the flow of information. Multiple school district sources earlier this week told BocaNewsNow.com that the problem is the Florida Department of Health which, they claim, is moving too slowly with contact tracing.
“Our goal is transparency,” said Palm Beach County School spokesperson Claudia Shea when asked about issues with COVID-19 reporting earlier in the week. “We are still working on the notification process.”
Alexander Shaw, spokesperson for the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County, didn’t address the contact tracing claims earlier this week, only providing BocaNewsNow.com with this statement:
“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.”
The Palm Beach County school district, given the better part of Friday to respond to the allegation of children, their parents and their teacher being kept in the dark about their classmate’s positive COVID-19 test, would only confirm that a child in the school had tested positive. There was no response to a request for details of the timing of parent notification.
The school in question, through a robocall late Friday, told parents that contact tracing had been completed, but did not tell parents that the infected “member of the school community” was actually a first grader whose classmates and teacher continued in school, on Friday, as normal.
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