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Orange County Schools Welcome Students Back to Brick-And-Mortar Classrooms on Friday

Photo: Danielle Prieur
Photo: Danielle Prieur

Orange County School Board Chair Teresa Jacobs is calling for more coronavirus testing as brick-and-mortar schools reopen on Friday.

Jacobs said the one thing that could make in-person schools and the entire community safer is more rapid coronavirus testing. 

She doesn’t criticize Dr. Raul Pino for the shortage, but she says as she looks around the state some health departments simply have more tests.

“Those resources have to be equitably distributed so that all children regardless of which county you’re in have the same access to those resources. And all teachers do. The sooner we can identify a positive case, the sooner we can keep it from spreading.”

Jacobs said as a former Orange County Mayor, the health department was always underfunded compared to the population size of the area. 

When Orange County students return to brick-and-mortar classrooms this week, desks will be socially distanced, face masks will be required and food services will be streamlined. 

Superintendent Barbara Jenkins says cleaning will be increased in commonly used touch point areas, and classrooms and buses will be sanitized at the end of the day.

Still, Jenkins says no matter what precautions are in place, there will be cases and she says LaunchED is still the safest option for families who can make it work.

“And so the chances are people that will enter our schools may already actually have the virus and not know it. I can’t guarantee that. Pandemics actually present challenges that even the medical community has not entirely figured out. And so to pretend that we’ve got a fail proof measure and there will never be a case or never an instance to deal with in the school setting is just not realistic.”

Jenkins says the district has collaborated with the department of health to develop six plans that they’ll follow if a child gets sick depending on the results of testing.

If you'd like to listen to this story, click on the clip at the top of the page.

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter and fill-in host at WMFE.