Parents want Lee County school district to track number of student COVID-19 cases

Reporter: Emma Heaton Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Credit: WINK News.

School districts across Southwest Florida have been keeping public databases on their websites tracking the number of students who test positive for the coronavirus within the school district. But there is one school district in the region where parents are concerned there is a lack of transparency for the number of confirmed cases in schools.

A school district not providing a public database tracker is Lee County. The District has a different method of keeping parents informed by sending an email to them that confirms a student has tested positive.

That email doesn’t include the number of students who have tested positive or where those students were during the school day, however.

Parents we spoke to are worried about the vague email and the District not keeping track.

“We, as parents, have a right to know where COVID is, kids were exposed,” said parent Jessica Jensen, who has children in the Lee County school district.

Jensen would be the first to say she wants to know what happens behind closed doors, especially when those doors belong to the school district, where her two kids go to school.

“I have one that’s in fifth grade and one that’s a senior.”

It’s what Jensen and all the other parents in the school district can’t see that causes concern for her.

“I understand the privacy of not releasing the child’s name, but I think they really do need to do a better job because this is a serious issue,” Jensen said. “Especially with the variants getting out of control.”

We took Jensen’s question to the District.

“Our priority is notifying a school community when a positive case is confirmed on campus and the letters we send home meet that commitment to transparency. Since we have not yet heard the state is going to use our data to pull together a weekly report of confirmed cases by school this year we are currently considering ways to report that information to our families in an easily accessible manner,” the School District of Lee County shared in a statement to WINK News.

We also reached out to the Florida Department of Health in Lee County for COVID-19 numbers in the Lee County school district, but they have not responded to us at this time.

Other districts have a COVID-19 dashboard. At this point, parents in Lee County want any kind of number.

“I don’t know, and no one knows,” said Elizabeth Ortega, whose grandson goes to school in Lee County. “And I think it should be transparent.”

Below is an example of the letter that would go out to parents, according to the district:

Dear _____ School families and staff,

We have been notified that an individual who has recently been on our campus has tested positive for

COVID-19. The Florida Department of Health in Lee County (FDOH-Lee) has contacted those individuals that are directly impacted. Due to privacy concerns, the FODOH-Lee does not disclose the individual’s information.

This incident will not affect the overall face-to-face instruction at our school and classes will resume as normal on Friday, August 13th.

If you have any questions, please call the COVID-19 Hotline at (239) 356-2800 during business hours, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30. You may also visit the COVID-19 Notification page on our website.

Thank you.

The School District of Lee County

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