JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Eighty-two cases of COVID-19 among students and faculty were reported by Duval County Public Schools following the first week back in class.
According to the district's COVID-19 dashboard — which documents cases that impact the campus, not all cases — 16 cases were among faculty and staff while 66 were student cases.
In 24 hours, the number of cases jumped by 35. Some community members worry it may be a sign of things to come.
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Data shows the majority of cases — 74 percent — were reported at elementary schools, which also house the highest number of students who are too young to be vaccinated. Currently, COVID-19 vaccines are available to people 12 or older.
Still, district-reported data shows that no one school houses more than three cases currently. Cedar Hills Elementary, Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, Hogan-Spring Glen Elementary, Lone Star Elementary, Pickett Elementary and Twin Lakes Elementary have each reported three cases.
It's hard to compare this week's case numbers to this time last school year since the district hadn't yet launched its daily tracker. However, records show numbers were significantly lower.
In late August last year, the Florida Department of Health reported 24 cases impacting private and public elementary, middle and high schools in Jacksonville, total. Duval Schools surpassed that number by the second day of school.
And for the entirety of August 2020, Duval Schools reported a total of 10 cases among faculty and students combined — the district reported 10 cases on the first day of school this year alone.
Health experts say infection rates now are going to be higher than last year because the coronavirus delta variant is much more contagious than the original strain.
In fact, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins data showed that Duval County reported 955 cases the week of Aug. 20 when school began. Now, the county is reporting 8,157 cases this week ending Thursday. That's a change of 754 percent or 8.54 times as much as last year.
The first week of school also marked the passing of two school district employees who separately had COVID-19.
Emily Bloch is an education reporter for The Florida Times-Union. Follow her on Twitter or email her.
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