COVID infection is no longer an excused absence in Florida school district

February 1, 2022, 3:28 PM UTC

Florida’s fourth-largest school district will no longer accept COVID-19 as an acceptable reason for students to miss school.

Orange County’s school district, which has over 206,000 students enrolled and more than 25,000 employees, has alerted parents that it will no longer be able to provide excused absences for students kept home as cases climbed in the county.

“The number of cases has continued to decline, and we continue to require face masks for adults and strongly encourage them for students,” the district wrote in a tweet. “It is also an additional strain on our teachers as they continue to manage assignments for large numbers of absent students.”

In the same tweet thread, though, the district encouraged parents to keep children who are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 at home. The district will also continue to require adults to wear masks—and encourage students to do so for at least another month.

In the 2021–2022 school year, Orange County schools have reported 20,362 confirmed cases of COVID-19, nearly 80% of which are students. Another 642 have been identified for quarantine.

School officials, in a subsequent tweet, said their hands were tied by the state, because it didn’t extend the quarantine code that was used to accommodate absences in attendance records. They encouraged parents who wish to continue to keep their children out of school to enroll in a homeschool program.

According to the state’s department of health, as of Jan. 27, Orange County had a 14-day rolling average COVID-19 infection rate of 31.1%. Last Dec. 22, it was just 6.26%.

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