TAMPA, Fla. — The Hillsborough County School Board is holding an emergency meeting to talk about the spike in COVID-19 cases and quarantine numbers among students and staff.

This comes just one week after school started.


Hillsborough County School Board emergency meeting


The numbers are going up for students and teachers impacted by COVID-19, with 10,384 students are now quarantined or isolated, along with 307 employees. According to the district, there are a total of 213,491 students enrolled and 23,596 staff members employed.

School leaders will discuss what they can do to lower those numbers, perhaps even revisiting a stricter mask mandate.

Masks are currently required in the county’s public schools, but parents can opt their children out.

Dr. Ashley McPhie, Pediatrics Director with Tampa Family Health Centers, said masks help stop the transmission of COVID in tight indoor spaces but even with a mask on, students are still subject to quarantine's if they aren't vaccinated.

"Could masks help lower those numbers? Absolutely,” McPhie said. “Masks could definitely help lower those rates of isolation and quarantine."

The majority of Hillsborough's 200,000-plus students are not vaccinated.

"The vaccine is safe,” she said. “It's been proven to be safe.  And getting that vaccine really lowers your child's potential for contracting COVID-19 and then spreading COVID-19."

The only way a student can avoid quarantine if exposed to someone with COVID-19 is to be fully vaccinated and not be showing any symptoms.

Pediatricians say that guideline alone, slowly but surely, is encouraging more parents and students to get the shot.