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COVID numbers continue to climb day by day, week by week, but the St. Johns County School District says it hasn't received any guidance from the Florida Department of Health to change its pandemic protocols.
As of Tuesday, the district reported 551 students positive for COVID and another 124 under quarantine. That's up from 515 positive and 161 quarantined on Jan. 14; 467 positive and 151 quarantined on Jan. 13; 426 positive and 155 quarantined on Jan. 12; and 329 positive and 121 quarantined on Jan. 11.
There are a total of 5,298 employees and 45,643 students districtwide.
The highest concentration of positives and quarantines has been at schools in northern St. Johns County, including Creekside High School, Bartram Trail High School, Patriot Oaks Academy, Freedom Crossing Academy, PV Rawlings Elementary School and Swiss Point Middle School.
Caseloads have inched up incrementally across the district since students returned from winter break on Jan. 6, following a similar uptick to those of the larger county population, according to Flagler Hospital's daily COVID-19 dashboard.
As of June 2021, St. Johns County school officials called an end to mandatory masking for students and staff, also doing away with desk shields and required distance learning rather than in-person instruction.
Kyle Dresback, director for student support services for the district, told The Record Wednesday that there are currently no plans to change any of those protocols, and only if staffing became an issue would the schools consider moving to online-only instruction.
"Even then, it would probably be just closing one classroom or another if we didn't have the personnel to support it (classroom instruction)," Dresback said.
The number of staff (instructional and non-instructional) absent from school as of Tuesday was 162 positive for COVID and 22 on quarantine.
The DOH has also not informed the school district of any new protocols it may require to guard against COVID, but that could change if caseloads increase, according to Dresback.
"The state [administration] has pretty much said they want to keep schools open as much as possible," Dresback added.
Dresback added that students who are at home and able to focus on school work are able to keep up with their peers via the online tool Schoolology or through packets at the elementary level.
This article originally appeared on St. Augustine Record: COVID numbers increase in St. Johns County, schools maintains policies