Is COVID-19 Spread in OCPS Schools?

September 26, 2020

OCPS continually states that no teacher or student has contracted COVID-19 at the school or worksite. Some teachers who have tested positive say they are not so sure that is true.  Some question the accuracy of the District’s dashboard (at this link) and policies and the department of Health’s accuracy in contact tracing. Some examples:

  • One teacher was in her room before face to face classes started when a custodian entered and inquired where a certain student sat. He stated that the student had tested positive and cleaned only that student’s desk. The teacher was quarantined and had herself tested. She tested positive. She does not show up on the OCPS dashboard, however 5 students are confirmed as positive. The teacher who tested positive received a quarantine letter from the Department of Health, which stated in part, “You were identified as being exposed to the case. You will need to quarantine at home until ____and may return to work thereafter. The teacher was not required to have a negative COVID-19 test before returning.
  • A teacher tested positive and received a quarantine letter from OCPS. Later another teacher on the teacher’s team also tested positive and was quarantined. Only one of the two teachers is listed on the OCPS dashboard under that school.
  • A teacher was told by her administrator to turn in her seating chart from a specific period because a student tested positive. The case was not listed on the OCPS dashboard. She further stated that the school had two cases, however the dashboard listed them days after teachers were notified.

Data from schools also suggests that COVID-19 is spreading in schools.  Consider the following:

Avalon Middle School: There are currently 53 active quarantine cases involving teachers and students at Avalon Park Middle School (4 employees and 49 students). Reported on September 16th were 35 active cases (3 employees and 32 students); reported on the 17 were 18 quarantine cases. Since September 9th, over the span of 16 days 7 have tested positive for COVID-19 (2 employees and 5 students). The pattern certainly suggests that there is spread within the school.

One Avalon Middle School parent sent OCCTA the following message on September 18th after hearing that her child was quarantined:

 “CONFIRMATION that the dashboard is WRONG. AMS says two cases. It is actually at least five. (She sent a photo –below-  of the dashboard as it appeared on September 18th. The OCPS dashboard only had 2 cases posted – 1 student and 1 employee.) Wanted to grab it before it could update. This is the false AMS data on the supposedly real time dashboard. No transparency. 81 quarantined at Avalon Middle.” 

avalon

OCPS Dashboard on September 18, 2020

It wasn’t until September 23rd that the OCPS dashboard showed 81 active quarantine cases at Avalon including 5 teachers and 76 students. On September 26th that information for September 23rd was not included on the dashboard.

avalon

OCPS Dashboard on September 26, 2020

Chain of Lakes Middle School:

Teachers from Chain of Lakes Middle School have been sending photos of hallways and other shared spaces with evidence of no social distancing. One suggested that COVID-19 is spreading in the school.  Three teachers and 16 students are now quarantined.

On August 28 a teacher wrote:

“Our principal ( Chain of Lakes Middle ) is refusing to order subs this year. They are shoving all of our f2f kids with an absent teacher, in one classroom. This is a photo of the hallway with that room today. All the students pictured, were sent to the computer lab in this hallway. This photo was taken today, 8/28/2020 around 7th period. This has been going on all week and has not been an isolated incident.” (Photo below)

chain of lakes hall

On September 8th one teacher wrote:

I know one of my colleagues emailed you with a picture of the students crammed in the hallway at Chain of Lakes Middle School. I’d like to document another instance of this. It is happening every day in my hallway. They are shoving classes (I heard today there was 8 in there) in a large computer lab type room. Our principal isn’t paying for subs this year so if a teacher is out, the kids are crammed in there.” 

On September 15th an anonymous person sent this message:

“This is Chain of Lakes Middle School during one of the many fire drills we’ve had since school started. 

There is a class in one the pictures that is called the 613 room and they have up to 30 - 50 kids daily due to no subs or lack of teachers. They group ALL the grade levels together 6 – 8.

This happens EVERY fire drill. We’ve had about 3 - 4 drills this far. They are more concerned if the fire drills than proper distancing.” 

 

 

fire drill

On September 24th the principal sent the following message to 7 teachers:

“Good afternoon Teachers,

You all have had a Covid-19 positive documented student within your class. Please see your period below and send me the seating chart with the information requested earlier that we may submit to the Dept. of Health. Please let me know if you have any questions. Thanks”  

 

colm

 

Other schools that suggest there is community spread within the school building:

Meadowbrook Middle School – Pattern of spread between employees with three confirmed cases: one employee on September 17, one on September 20 and one on September 21.  Seven employees were quarantined on September 24

Zellwood Elementary School – Pattern of spread between employees. Two employees have been confirmed as positive: one on September 16th and one on September 18. Eight employees are quarantined: 3 on September 18th and 5 on September 21st.

Winter Park Technical SchoolPattern of spread between employees. One student confirmed positive on September 10th. One employee confirmed positive on September 19 and two on September 22nd. Five employees were quarantined on September 24th.

Windemere High School  -  Teachers at Windemere High School have been contacting OCCTA since face-to-face classes started to complain about the lack of social distancing.  The school has three confirmed student cases one each on September 14, 17 and 18th.  There are currently 50 active quarantine cases with five teachers and 45 students.

Windemere High School hallwayswindemere


AUGUST 28, 2020

COVID-19 Positive at OCPS?

MEDICAL LETTER

OCCTA is fighting for the safety and health of every student, teacher and community member. We are greatly concerned with the District’s plans, procedures and policies concerning reopening of schools that were created by the District with no input from the union or teachers. We are especially concerned with the District’s lack of urgency, lack of honesty and lack of transparency in releasing data and documentation on positive cases of COVID-19 in schools.

The court-ordered documentation that the District provided to OCCTA was late, sloppy and incoherent. Instead of identifying names of worksites and schools, the lists contained dozens of names of job descriptions and departments. The first list delivered after the deadline and a second updated list that was delivered 6 days later, both lacked requested information. How could there possibly be effective contact tracing with such a sloppy and unorganized system? How can health and safety of individuals be protected?

This week the union heard from several teachers who tested positive for COVID-19. We also heard from teachers who work at schools where positive cases have been identified. All are concerned that neither their schools and/or the District did not notify faculty, staff and/or parents in a timely manner, or at all. One teacher who tested positive, notified the school principal. Days later parents and teachers at the school still had not been alerted. Other teachers expressed similar concerns. At one school the person who tested positive had been in a face-to-face faculty meeting and it was not until days later that some of those present were alerted. How does it make sense to withhold information that could put health and lives at risk? Is this being done under orders of the Commissioner of Education?

The District has sent the letter seen here to teachers who have tested positive. Several expressed concern with the line, “You are to not to . . .discuss reasons related to your Medical Relief of Duty status.” The District should not, and cannot, make any attempt to restrict a person’s constitutional rights or freedom of speech. Most teachers who have tested positive feel a moral obligation to inform others so they can take steps to get tested, protect their health and prevent community spread. Those employees who test positive absolutely can speak up if they have COVID-19. If you are afraid contact OCCTA and we will announce the school or worksite.

What is this meaning of this line,"Since you are being paid during this time, you are to remain available during working hours." What? A person is sick and they are to remain "available"? For what?

Also disturbing were the comments made by Dr. Pino at a press conference yesterday. He explained that if a student is COVID-19 positive only some parents would be notified depending on a seating chart provided by the District. Is this for real? Students move in a room. They pass others to get to their seat. They get up to retrieve materials or to use the restroom. They pass others when they leave. In some classes there are no windows. In most OCPS schools the ventilation is poor and filters are not up to standards required to block COVID-19.

Considering this District has ordered hundreds of instructional personnel and teachers with approved ADA accommodations back to schools or worksites we condemn the lack of enforcement of social distancing and mask policies, and the lack of urgency in notifying teachers, students and the public of schools and worksites with positive COVID-19 cases. OCCTA is continuing to notify each principal where violations of social distancing, mask policies and the safety and health of employees and students is at risk. We are filing grievances in cases where corrective action is not being made. If you are a member and you believe your health or safety is at risk contact us immediately at orangecta@gmail.com with your full name, school or worksite, and contact information.