August 21, 2020 — As concerns grow about coronavirus cases in schools and on university campuses, administrators are responding with quarantines, virtual classes, and new sanitization procedures.
On Wednesday, Miami-Dade County Public Schools confirmed that 578 employees have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to The Miami Herald. The number includes cases between March and July.
The district has 40,000 employees and is the largest employer in the county, the newspaper reported. The total has increased significantly since early July, when 100 employees had tested positive.
The employee count includes at least a dozen security guards, custodians and food service workers, Phyllis LeFlore, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1184, told the newspaper. The group represents the district’s bus drivers, food service workers and maintenance workers.
“They’re bringing it from home and they’re bringing it into the workplace,” she said. “They’re not getting it from the school system.”
The district will start the school year online on Aug. 31 and will reassess at the end of September whether in-person classes should resume in October.
Also on Wednesday, Massachusetts health officials announced that the flu vaccine is required for children over 6 months old if they attend child care, pre-school, K-12 or college in the state, according to WHDH in Boston. Homeschooled and higher education students who are only enrolled in remote classes are exempt.
The new requirement is meant to lessen the devastating burden of a joint COVID-19 and flu season this winter. Students are expected to get a vaccine by Dec. 31 to start classes in January, the news station reported.
“It is more important now than ever to get a flu vaccine because flu symptoms are very similar to those of COVID-19, and preventing the flu will save lives and preserve healthcare resources,” Larry Madoff, medical director of the Massachusetts Department of Health’s Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences, told WHDH.