A single Florida school district has over 10,000 students and staff under quarantine or isolation within a week of the new school year, according to ABC News.
Hillsborough County is the seventh-largest district in the United States with more than 213,000 students. The district told reporters Wednesday (August 18) that 10,384 students and 338 staff members are isolating or quarantining. Over a fifth of the student population is Black, according to a demographic report from the county.
Earlier this week, school officials reported Tuesday (August 17) that over 5,500 students were out of classrooms. Those numbers have nearly doubled by the next day.
While masks are mandated in Hillsborough County schools, parents can opt their children out of the requirement. At least 28,000 parents have done so as of Wednesday.
"After a marathon meeting that ran nearly three hours longer than intended, Hillsborough County voted to institute a mask mandate for at least 30 days, but parents will be able to opt their kids out with a note from a medical provider," ABC News says. "District officials said they're providing personal protective equipment and sanitation stations for each classroom, and have installed MERV-13 air filters at each school."
This also comes after two other Florida school districts, including Broward County, have been sanctioned by the state government for instituting mask requirements. Gov. Ron DeSantis has threatened to punish school districts and even individual officials if they try to defy his orders against mask mandates.
Florida has become an epicenter for COVID-19 activity, mostly driven by the virulent Delta variant. Reporters said the Sunshine State has the country's highest coronavirus case rate.