Hillsborough County officials reported that thousands of young students have been forced to quarantine and isolate themselves after being exposed to the coronavirus.
The school district said that 5,599 students as of Monday were either already in isolation due to a positive test for COVID-19 or in quarantine due to close contact with the virus. The numbers have skyrocketed from Friday's 4,477 students, an increase of nearly 1,200 children.
Thousands of Students Forces to Quarantine
The reported numbers included students who were either found to have a positive test for the coronavirus or have been exposed, maskless, to a positive case. The incidents come amid the district not requiring vaccinated students to quarantine after exposure unless they show signs and symptoms related to the disease.
There are also 316 school district employees who were forced to quarantine, an increase of 27 from Friday's 289. These reports have forced the Hillsborough County School Board to conduct an emergency meeting on Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. to discuss what they should do moving forward, Fox13 News reported.
Officials will determine the latest impacts of the pandemic and how to mitigate the spread of the virus across the region. A notice from the district added they would consider implementing mandatory face coverings for all students and staff.
The meeting will include a one-hour time frame when members of the public will be allowed to comment on the discussion and share their insights into the situation. Officials said that the meeting will take place at 901 E. Kennedy Blvd, in Tampa, WFLA reported.
The situation comes amid schools across the nation starting to reopen and welcome students back to in-person learning environments. However, disputes over mask mandates have caused rocky grounds between school districts, politicians, and families nationwide.
The highly infectious Delta variant continued to dominate the number of cases in the United States after a summer surge of infections. Some Texas school districts became confused after the state Supreme Court stopped mask mandates in two of the largest districts in the region, just one day before the first day of school in Dallas.
Surge of Infections Nationwide
An Arizona judge temporarily upheld a mask mandate in a Phoenix district despite new legislation that banned such protocols. Sheriff's deputies were stationed in schools on the first day of classes by one Colorado county as a safety precaution after parents protested against a last-minute mask mandate.
The battle between the two sides was most noticeable in Texas, where counties and school districts kept the implementation of mask mandates while others ignored them. Republicans control the majority of the state's highest court, which ordered the ban on mask requirements that county leaders in Dallas and San Antonio, which are Democratically-run, have implemented amid the surge of infections, the Associated Press reported.
On Monday, Dallas school officials announced that masks will be required on district property and that they will ban visitors from entering schools. The Austin school district and Harris County also revealed mask mandates to be in place for their schools.