TAMPA, Fla. - The Hillsborough County School District recorded a record high number of daily COVID-19 cases earlier this week, as leaders for the school system urged parents to continue following CDC guidelines when students are off campus.
According Hillsborough County schools' COVID-19 dashboard, there were 56 positive cases Monday. By Wednesday, the total for the week was more than 80.
A district spokesperson and health experts said students appear to be following school rules for COVID-19 safety while they're on campus, but once they're out of school they are engaging in riskier behavior, including gathering in larger groups, not wearing masks and ignoring social distancing.
Dr. Jay Wolfson, an associate vice president at USF Health, said it's fortunate there hasn't been an outbreak in a school that began with community spread.
"We've been very lucky that we have not had any evidence of spread inside the schools," Wolfson said. "That's good for the teachers that's good for the staff and it's good for other students as well."
The previous record number for cases in a day in Hillsborough County schools was 41.
In a statement, a district spokesperson wrote:
"It is imperative that as a community, we continue to follow CDC guidelines to further protect our students, families and our staff. We have sent multiple messages to students and families encouraging everyone to wear face coverings when off campus, social distance when possible and avoid large group gatherings and parties. Not following these important safety protocols could negatively impact our schools if we continue to have positive cases and quarantines associated with those cases."
Daily case numbers, meanwhile, are on the rise in Florida. Case positivity rate statewide has reached 7.75 percent, which is the highest number since mid-August.
Wolfson worries about how the holiday travel season will impact community spread.
"It's easy to become complacent," he added. "Recognize that we're at war here and we're all soldiers in this war."