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Already students at Boynton, Gardens schools positive for COVID

WPEC West Palm Beach logo WPEC West Palm Beach 9/25/2020 Gary Detman, Chuck Weber
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Two Palm Beach County students, one in elementary school, the other in high school, have tested positive for COVID-19.  According to the School District of Palm Beach County, they are the first testing positive for coronavirus since schools welcomed students back to classrooms on Monday.

Early Thursday the School District confirmed reports of a student COVID case at Citrus Cove Elementary in Boynton Beach. Later another student case showed up on the School District’s COVID Dashboard, this one at Palm Beach Gardens High.

Caption: WPEC

"I understand that parents have to work," said Beth Licata, dealing with a student COVID case at her son's school, Citrus Cove.

"But if a child is symptomatic, even if it's just a common cold, keep the child home," said Licata. "Don’t put everyone that teaches or the other students at risk."

Still, the COVID case was not enough to keep Licata's fourth grader away from class.

"I did ask my son if he wanted to stay home, and he said he felt very comfortable in the classroom, that he's away from everybody, and that he's only at the lunch table with one other person, and he said he felt very safe and wanted to come back," said Licata.

It was through the principal's voice message where Licata learned about the student case at Citrus Cove. She said an email soon followed.

Licata said she was told if she received no personal phone call, her child was not near the student who tested positive.

At Gardens High, seniors Gabriella Jones and Camila Correa said their parents got calls too.

"At first I was like hesitant, I was like, I don't know if I want to go back to school. But then I realized they have a system," said Correa.

The system?

"When we first started up school, they had organized seating, where we sit in the class<" Jones explained. "The reason why is if somebody had COVID."

"If you ever were near that seat, or you sat in that seat, they call you and they're like, 'Hey you need to be quarantined,'" said Correa, although adding the entire class would not isolate, only those with close contact.

"If they do have it, I hope they're okay," Jones expressed.

"I know it's hard to keep the child home, but, you know, why put everyone else in danger?" Licata said.

Unlike Treasure Coast school districts, a Palm Beach School District spokeswoman said so far the District will not be releasing the number of potentially exposed students who transition back to remote instruction or quarantine, as a precaution.

The District spokeswoman did say sanitization efforts were undertaken where necessary at the schools.  However, according to district policy, the areas used by the student will be closed off and access to it will be restricted. The area must be cleaned following CDC protocols. Once appropriately cleaned, the area can be reopened.

The School District said the Florida Department of Health is involved, with contact tracers speaking with people who had been in close proximity to the students who tested positive.

According to the District's new COVID-19 dashboard, in addition to the two students, 12 staff members have tested positive for coronavirus.

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