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Medical Advisory Committee Advises Orange Schools On Reopening


A newly-appointed medical advisory committee is advising the Orange County school board on how to reopen brick-and-mortar schools safely next week.

The school board voted Tuesday night to expand the committee’s responsibilities to include advising on when to open or close schools. 

The 11-member committee is composed of representatives from some of Central Florida’s highest-profile hospitals, including AdventHealth, Nemours and Orlando Health. 

The committee is charged with advising the school board on best practices for operating schools safely during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The school board has expressed strong reluctance to reopen brick-and-mortar schools. The district faces multiple lawsuits aimed at keeping schools closed.  

The board members called for the committee to help address one of the most confusing aspects of a state emergency order requiring all brick-and-mortar schools to reopen fully. 

The order gives districts the option to not reopen on the advice of state or local health officials. But the order fails to specify which local health officials have that authority. 

Orange County Public Schools began its new academic year Monday, with all students learning virtually at home. 

Some 30% of students and teachers have indicated a preference for face-to-face learning when brick-and-mortar schools reopen August 21st. 

The committee's next meeting is Wednesday at 7 p.m. The district is the fourth-largest in Florida, serving some 215,000 students.

Medical Advisory Committee members

Akinyemi Ajayi      Pediatric Pulmonologist, Children’s Lung, Asthma, and Sleep Specialists
Adriana Cadilla      Infectious Disease, Nemours
Brian A. Harris      Behavioral Developmental Pediatrician, Orlando Health
Vincent Hsu      Epidemiologist and Infection Prevention, AdventHealth
Omayra Mansfield      Chief Medical Officer, AdventHealth Apopka/Winter Garden
Michael Muszynski      Professor Emeritus Clinical Sciences, Florida State University
Annete Nielsen      Pediatrician, Tree House Pediatrics
George Ralls      Chief Medical Officer, Orlando Health
Darcy Ravndal      Nurse Practitioner, Edgewater High School
Mercedes Rodriguez, OCPS Medical Consultant      Physician Advisor & Liaison – retired, HCA/Osceola Regional Medical Center
Regan Schwartz      Chief of Emergency Medicine, AdventHealth

Amy Green covered the environment for WMFE until 2023. Her work included the 2020 podcast DRAINED.