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'Far too relaxed': Pasco County Schools superintendent recommends masks

Pasco County Schools has 145 positive COVID cases among students, the superintendent reports.
Credit: AP Photo/LM Otero
Wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID19, elementary school students wait for classes to begin in Godley, Texas, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. Three rural school districts in Johnson County were among the first in Texas to head back to school for in-person classes for students.

PASCO COUNTY, Fla — The Pasco County Schools superintendent is asking students and staff to wear masks in schools as COVID-19 cases rise in the school district.

"I want to, once again, strongly recommend you wear a mask," Superintendent Kurt Browning said. "I'm talking to staff and I'm talking to students."

After one week of in-classroom curriculum, the school system has reported 145 positive coronavirus cases among students and 46 positive cases among staff members, according to Browning. A reported 148 students have missed instructional time due to quarantine. 

Browning says cases are reported daily and the case count is on the rise. 

"I've been out visiting schools and what I have observed is mask-wearing that is sporadic at best," Browning said. "Those of you who have been wearing a mask, thank you. However, people have been far too relaxed and the result is more and more cases affecting out schools."

The rising coronavirus cases are not an issue Pasco County Schools is facing alone, other school systems such as Hillsborough County Schools are also seeing a rise in cases among students and staff.

According to a press release, as of Monday, 5,599 students and 316 employees in Hillsborough County are either in isolation or quarantining due to the virus after returning to the classroom last week.

Browning said while he knows everyone wants to quickly "get back to normal," the most efficient way to get there is by preventing infections now by wearing a mask. 

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