COVID-19: Baldwin Middle-Senior High School to transition to online learning

BALDWIN, Fla. — UPDATE, 8/24/2021, 5:35 p.m.: Due to the number of cases at Baldwin Middle-High and the resulting close contacts exceeding the 20% threshold, learning will shift online through Aug. 31 for Baldwin Middle-Senior High School students.

The school shared the following message on its website:

“Due to the number of students needing to quarantine as a result of our active Covid-19 cases, our whole school will shift to online instruction beginning tomorrow, Aug. 25.

“Students should not come to the school between Aug. 25 and Aug. 31. Instead, students should log-on to their first period class through Microsoft Teams at the normal first period time of 7:15 a.m.

“The closure also means all extracurricular activities, including athletics and arts events, are suspended during this time. These activities will resume when school returns to normal, in-person instruction on Sept. 1.

“Students should have their school technology with them, but if they do not, please call the school (904-266-1200) on Aug. 25 during normal operating hours. Staff will make arrangements to ensure students have technology to connect to online instruction.

“Curbside meal service will be available on weekdays during this building closure. This will consist of drive-up, “grab and go” cold breakfast and lunch available between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. at the school.

“The school will call and email families with any necessary updates.”

Original story below:

Several schools in Duval County have reported a jump in covid cases since Monday, meanwhile, around 20% of schools have no covid cases at all.

Baldwin Middle-Senior High School added 11 new cases since Monday for a total of 40 cases. The school currently has 1,309 students enrolled.

We caught up with Blake Bullard, who was born and raised in Baldwin. He told Action News Jax it’s the type of small rural town where everyone looks out for each other.

“I mean it’s kind of like a cookie-cutter, Leave it to Beaver, everything’s perfect, everybody knows everybody,” he said.

Bullard graduated from Baldwin Middle-Senior High School in 2001 and although his daughter is too young to go there, several of his friends have children who are enrolled.

“My friends were waiting for it to start back up,” Bullard said.

Last week Action News Jax told you about the vaccination clinic that was held at this school as part of Duval Vax of Kindness.

Second doses of the vaccine are starting in September, but despite the vaccination Covid-19 cases at the are rising school according to the DCPS Covid-19 dashboard.

For Bullard, seeing the rise in cases is troubling.

“I mean that’s a shock. We’re like a small school and it’s not like there’s a mall or anything and kids are intermingling, it’s usually on a dirt road,” Bullard said.

Action News Jax reached out to Duval County Public Schools about why cases are so high, they sent us this e-mail asking we refer to the Department of Health -Duval County since it performs contact tracing.

DCPS said to get an overall look at its COVID-19 mitigation strategies, parents can review its Health and Safety page on the district’s Back-to-School website.

Action News Jax did reach out to the Department of Health – Duval County to find out more about why these numbers are so high.

The agency sent us this statement:

The Florida Department of Health in Duval County (DOH-Duval) is invested in the health of our youth and also invested in working with DCPS to identify cases and potential exposures of COVID-19 within our school system. When this school year began - our community was already in the midst of facing a surge in cases (due to the delta variant). The delta variant has resulted in a positivity rate within our community above 20% (for most of the month of July and a few weeks in August).

The transmission rates that we are seeing in our schools (considered a community setting) is reflective of what we have seen in the community leading up to the start of the school year, and it should be noted that we have received (in the first two weeks of school) roughly the same amount of positive cases that we received August through November - during 2020.

In addition, the emergency rule that was put in place (for the 2021/2022 school year) has changed the landscape of how contact investigations are now conducted. While schools are among the highest priority for DOH-Duval, the time limits to complete contact tracing are now shorter- because quarantine is now shorter. DOH-Duval asks that parents have children tested if they are sick – and also keep them out of school if they are sick. Please do not assume that a child’s symptoms are due to allergies, a cold, or a stomach bug.

As far as DOH-Duval staffing is concerned, please note that DOH-Duval has an open job advertisement for contact investigators and continues to hire.