AP poll: Most back school mask, vaccine mandates
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INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — A second school here has been shut down because of a COVID-19 outbreak, officials confirmed Tuesday. Treasure Coast Elementary will remain closed through Sept. 10.
The decision to close the school — the district’s second and the second shut down on the Treasure Coast by the pandemic — was because of the high number of COVID-19 cases among faculty, Superintendent David Moore said.
Officials on Thursday closed Beachland Elementary through Labor Day because of the spike in COVID-19 cases among both students and staff. Beachland students are expected to return Sept. 7.
On Tuesday, the number of COVID-19-positive employees exceeded 25%, Moore said.
“The numbers more than validate the need to separate people to mitigate the spread,” he said. Moreover, some positions require staff to encounter “a high number of students every day, which maximizes the potential for quarantines and exposures.”
The more than 600 students will access lessons and assignments through Canvas, the district’s online learning platform, and free breakfasts and lunches will be available for pickup at the school, said Deputy Superintendent Scott Bass.
Parents were to receive more information regarding meals Tuesday evening, he said.
Increasing COVID-19 cases since school began
The school has reported 14 cases among employees since the start of the year, Moore said, but more were sent to be tested Tuesday. The number of cases overall continues to grow, he said.
The Indian River County district also has seen two teachers die from COVID-19 since Aug. 19. That’s when teacher Tabitha Blair died.
Blair had taught at Treasure Coast Elementary, but officials have said she became sick over summer break and did not return to school when classes resumed for the new year began Aug. 10.
While the passing of Blair and the employees’ “fragile” state factored into the decision, Moore said, numbers alone were enough to close the school.
Sarah Zevallos, a teacher at Fellsmere Elementary School, died Thursday, officials said Friday.
Unlike Blair, Zevallos, who had worked in the district for four years, began the school year teaching in her kindergarten dual-language classroom, officials said.
Since the start of the school year, 416 students and 145 employees across the district have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the district. An additional 144 students have tested positive with at-home COVID-19 tests, though the results aren’t confirmed by the Health Department, according to the district.
Sommer Brugal is TCPalm’s education reporter for Indian River, St Lucie and Martin counties. You can keep up with Sommer on Twitter @smbrugal and give her a call at 772-221-4231.