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South McKeel Academy staff member tests positive for COVID-19

LAKELAND, Fla. — A staff member at South McKeel Academy tested positive for COVID-19, according to a press release.

The staff member first showed symptoms on August 14 and has been in quarantine since then, according to a letter sent to parents. It says the staff member will remain in quarantine for the next 10 days.

In a press release, it says school officials have started contact tracing protocols and notified families with potential direct exposure. Children who are symptom-free are able to return to school and those who are showing symptoms are asked to stay home, the release says.

The press release said The Schools of McKeel Academy will continue with in-person instruction and will evaluate each incident with a “surgical, meticulous approach.”

TSMA will continue to follow the guidelines as presented by the Florida Department of Education. We will evaluate each incident with a surgical, meticulous approach. Our goal is to remain open for face-to-face instruction in brick and mortar buildings every school day per the direction of our state officials. We prioritize the overall health of every member of our system of schools. We are ready and able to pivot to full distance learning if directed by the governing authority of the Florida Department of Education.

Additional Point of Clarifications: After touring each and every classroom across our three campuses, it was clear that we could not feasibly ensure, with 100% certainty, that each and every classroom could accommodate desks six feet apart. This is feasible in some classrooms and in others not. Which is why we mandated the wearing of face masks for all students and staff at all times; in the classroom and on buses and during arrival and dismissal time adhering to the recommendations of both our local health officials and CDC recommendations. We have expanded our seating during lunch timeframes to include outdoor seating and implemented further measures that reduces lunchroom capacity by 50% with classes on a rotation schedule between dining in our cafeteria’s, outdoors or in the classroom.

This is an unfortunate situation; an inevitable one at that. Science tells us that many individuals do not present symptoms and are asymptomatic. As soon as we were made aware we acted judiciously and will continue to do so. Temperature checks are not required at this time. We believe they do not provide a 100% safeguard. There are a combination of symptoms to monitor and we encourage our students and staff to self monitor, self screen. We will continue to monitor and enforce our symptom checker procedures for all students and staff. In this particular incident, fever did not present until well after infection and the staff member had already self quarantined.

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