Hillsborough teachers create website to track COVID-19 cases

Christel Deskins

The group will make a custom-made coronavirus dashboard with data verified by the school district.

TAMPA, Fla. — With the school year just days away for those in Hillsborough County, teachers and parents are monitoring coronavirus data in the county. 

“This is a deadly virus, and people have to be responsible for their safety,” Blake High School teacher Steve Kemp said.

Knowing the risks that come with going back into the classroom, Steve Kemp is spearheading a group of teachers who are tracking the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the Hillsborough County School District. 

“The purpose of it is to provide information that is just not readily available,” Kemp said.

The high school teacher says the school district has not published any coronavirus data. That’s why this Facebook page will soon link to a custom made coronavirus dashboard that will detail how many students, teachers and staff have tested positive. The site is expected to be up and running later this week. 

Kemp says all of the data published is verified by the school district.

“We need accurate numbers, which we can only get from the district. That’s what is important to us. and what the district does is separate from this. This has nothing to do directly with the school district,” Kemp said.

Without a centralized location to look up the data in the district, school board member Karen Perez has been asking Superintendent Addison Davis for a weekly COVID-19 update.

“My fear is that we’re going to be the Petri dish for COVID-19 in our Hillsborough County Schools and that we’re going to end up being a pandemic within the pandemic. Teachers are the ones who are going to be in front of our students, so it’s only fair for them to know and to, you know, share what’s happening,” Perez said.

Hillsborough school officials sent this statement to 10 Tampa Bay saying protocols have been developed to use once someone tests positive:

“Our district has already developed protocols in the instance of a positive case at a school site, which includes notifying everyone on campus. We understand the importance of being transparent in this process, while also balancing privacy for those impacted by this virus. We will continue this same transparency as the new academic year begins.”

Just last week, 297 cases were reported across the district. The latest update shows 329 people have tested positive for the virus: 317 are teachers, 12 are students. 

The school district says an email will go out to everyone in the school once someone tests positive. Once contact tracing is performed, anyone who has come in contact with a positive case and needs to quarantine will be notified.

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