An isolation room for students with symptoms of COVID-19 at Heritage Elementary School in Greenacres in September. (Photo: Allen Eyestone, The Palm Beach Post)
When sick students are sent home with flu-like symptoms in Palm Beach County public schools, their siblings will have to go with them.
“Any other students attending face-to-face instruction in any District-operated school that resides in the same home as the student exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms will be sent home with the parent/guardian and assigned to Distance Learning,” the new rule states.
More: COVID-19 cases climb by 55% in Palm Beach County schools, reflecting ‘resurgence’
District officials say that sending home siblings of sick students has been happening for weeks, but the school board officially added it to the COVID-19 policies at a meeting Wednesday.
The public schools ask parents not to send students to in-person classes if they exhibit “flu-like” symptoms such as a fever, cough or sore throat.
Children who display those symptoms on campus are supposed to be sent to the school nurse for screenings. The nurse determines whether the symptoms are serious enough for the student to be sent home.
Students sent home are asked to attend classes virtually until symptoms have abated for 10 days, or they receive a negative COVID-19 test.
Now, the school board’s new policy calls for any student who lives with them – in most cases a sibling – to also be sent home.
More: Campus COVID cases grow, but schools aren’t closing: Here’s why
The district said last month that some sibling pairs were already being pulled out of classes when one tested positive. Separately, the county health department has asked that if anyone —parent or child — tests positive, everyone living in their home quarantine and look for symptoms.
After relatively few confirmed cases for the first month of in-person classes, the number of confirmed COVID-19 incidents has spiked on school district campuses in the past week and a half.
As of Tuesday, 337 cases had been reported this fall on the district’s roughly 180 campuses, including 186 students and 151 employees.
More than half of them – 178 – have come since Oct. 26.
Palm Beach Post staff writer Sonja Isger contributed to this story.
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