Hundreds to quarantine after COVID-19 case linked to Florida high school graduation ceremony
BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Nearly 300 recent Bayside High School graduates and their guests have been asked to quarantine after health officials said an attendee at Saturday's commencement ceremony had COVID-19.
Families were notified about the case Monday in a letter from the Florida Department of Health in Brevard County.
The individual tested positive for the virus "shortly after attending," said Anita Stremmel, the department's assistant county health director, in an email to FLORIDA TODAY.
"The Florida Department of Health was notified about the positive case by Brevard Public Schools and we confirmed the positive result in our lab reporting system," Stremmel said.
The letter initially stated families should isolate any students who participated in the ceremony, but Stremmel said the advisory applied to anyone who was present at the event, which took place outdoors on Bayside High's football field.
"We are advising anyone who attended the graduation ceremony to self-quarantine and monitor their symptoms for 14 days," she said.
The school district had previously announced safety measures for all high school graduations to reduce the risk of spreading the virus, including mandatory masks and spaced seating to promote social distancing. Physical contact between students and staff and all indoor activities were prohibited.
Brevard Public Schools spokeswoman Nicki Hensley said an exact count of how many people have been impacted was not immediately available. Nearly 300 students and at least 30 staff members were at the ceremony, and each student was allowed to bring up to two guests, Hensley said.
She declined to give information about the person referenced in the Health Department letter, citing medical privacy laws.
"As with all school events, it is important our attendees follow the established health and safety protocols. Upon learning of this situation, BPS worked quickly with our local Department of Health partners to determine the best course of action and proceed with our notification process," Hensley said in a texted statement.
School district custodial staff "followed protocols for post-event cleanup," Hensley said, adding details about the process would be forthcoming.
While all attendees at Saturday's ceremony are being asked to quarantine, positive cases are followed by "an extensive epidemiological investigation to identify individuals who may have had close contact with the virus," Stremmel said.
"Those individuals are then notified by their county health department and instructed to self-isolate for 14 days after their exposure to the virus, and to contact their county health department and health care provider immediately if they develop symptoms."
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This story originally published to floridatoday.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the USA TODAY Network - Florida.