BRADENTON, Fla. - With 101 cases of COVID-19 among students since the start of school, Palmetto High School leads the way in Manatee County with a less-than-desirable record.
"It's been sad. She went to one week and now she's been quarantining for two weeks," said Tiffany Pepsin, whose 14-year old daughter is one of hundreds who've had to quarantine.
"When they took everybody out, it was a whole group in the auditorium that had to quarantine. They had already been in their classes and on the bus. They'd already been in all of their classes," Pepsin continued.
Her daughter is now fully vaccinated, a decision she made with guidance from her mother.
"It's just a conversation that we need to have with our kids. Just like you do with all the other vaccines. It really shouldn't be any different. They’re all doing the same thing they’re protecting us to spreading from the most vulnerable," Pepsin said.
Palmetto High School has had 101 students and six staff members test positive for COVID-19 since the start of school. Along with Parrish Community High and Buffalo Creek Middle, they lead the district's case count.
Because of that, MCR Health has set up a voluntary vaccine clinic with the Pfizer vaccine on Thursday at Buffalo Creek Middle. The vaccines are voluntary and require a parent to sign off and be present for a student to get the shot.
Vaccine clinics through the Department of Health will also be set up during the week for all high schools.
"We are now in our third week of school and yes, there’s a high number of COVID-positive cases in every school district in Florida, but especially Manatee County," said Kevin Chapman, the executive director of administration for the Manatee County School District. "We want to make sure we are offering these voluntary vaccinations right there on campus for those students and families who chose to get one."
If exposed, students who are fully vaccinated will not need to quarantine unless they show symptoms.
The shot is a tool health officials hope will help stop the spread – and keep students in school.
"We are all just working hard to mitigate this COVID surge we are seeing in Manatee County. I think through vaccinations, through information, through as much communication as we can provide families, and together we can all get through this as safely and start to see our numbers go down," said Chapman.
Vaccinations will be administered by MCR Health at Buffalo Creek Middle School in the cafeteria on Thursday, September 2 from 4:40 p.m. until 7 p.m.
LINK: Students 12 and older who want vaccines can sign up for an appointment at www.manateeschools.net/vaccine.