‘It’s scary’: Local teacher says parents aren’t being notified immediately of COVID-19 cases

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A Duval County teacher said, at her school, parents are not being notified immediately when someone in the classroom tests positive for COVID-19.

In a story you’ll see only on Action News Jax, Courtney Cole spoke to the teacher who said they are not allowed to say anything to the parents.

Any information parents receive about a COVID-19 case or exposure has to come from the Department of Health.

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The Duval Department of Health told Cole once Duval County Public Schools tells it about the positive case, it makes attempts to contact parents within 48 hours.

But the teacher Cole spoke to said that’s not happening at her school.

“It’s scary, and a lot of teachers are really scared right now, and they are doing their best because they love the kids,” the teacher said.

This Duval County public school teacher reached out to Action News Jax for help.

The local teacher said when a teacher or someone in the classroom tests positive for COVID-19, parents are not being notified immediately.

According to the latest data from the school district’s COVID-19 dashboard, there are 316 COVID-19 cases districtwide.

In all, 47 of them are staff cases and 269 are student cases.

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“We’re not allowed to say anything, which puts us in a bad predicament because we want to protect the kids, and we have good relationships with our parents. So we’re not really sure what to do,” the teacher told Cole.

She asked that we change her voice and not show her face — out of fear of retaliation from the school district.

“In my particular case, it has been over five days, and nobody has been notified at all. So that is just concerning to me because we know that this virus can continue to spread. And we know if we don’t do anything, then we’re just increasing the possibilities of spread into people getting sick and dying,” she said.

The Duval Department of Health told Cole via email: “The teachers should not be sharing any personal/identifying information of the positive case, if it was reported to them.

DCPS gives teachers guidance on what can and cannot be shared. DOH does not share any identifying information with the teachers when we conduct contact investigations.”

Cole reached out to DCPS as well. It told her the Florida Department of Health is the only agency that “has the statutory authority to conduct contact tracing and issue quarantine directions.”

And because of the “confidential nature” of health care information, DCPS told Action News Jax it doesn’t expect employees to get involved.

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“The district policies just need to be immediately changed to align with science and be proactive and transparent. Because things are worse now than they were last year,” the teacher said.

Parents, if you want to know how you can help, the teacher is encouraging you to reach out to the Duval County School Board, the superintendent of schools, the DOH and Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“I would just like to encourage parents to reach out and really make their voices heard. Because I think the more people do that, I’m hoping that we can make a change,” she said.