By Kevin Deutsch
The Omicron variant is causing widespread COVID-19 infections throughout the Broward County Public School system, data show, with nearly 1,000 cases reported among teachers and school staff this week alone.
Since Jan. 1, at least 969 BCPS employees and 571 students have tested positive for the coronavirus, with the highest weekly case total in the county recorded at Coral Glades High School in Coral Springs. The facility reported 36 people—31 students and five employees—testing positive for the virus since Jan. 1, according to the school system’s COVID-19 dashboard.
Since the end of winter break, the wave of infections has caused a shortage of teachers and bus drivers at schools across Broward, reflecting a national trend. In the seven-day period ending Thursday, Florida recorded at least 20 more COVID-19 deaths and a daily average of 56,611 daily infections, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Overall, since the school year began, nearly 7,000 Broward County Public School students, teachers, and other school staff members have tested positive for the virus. According to the BCPS dashboard, 4,237 students and 2,761 staffers have returned positive tests.
None have reported more positive cases than Coral Glades High School, with 144 infections, the dashboard shows.
Masks remain optional for faculty and students in Broward—a state law bans student mask mandates—though the school district encourages their use.
“While face coverings are not required for students, we strongly encourage parents to send their children to school with face coverings,” district officials said.
According to the CDC, about 68 percent of Broward County residents are fully vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccines.
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- Kevin Deutsch is an award-winning crime journalist and author. A graduate of Florida International University, Kevin has worked on staff at The Miami Herald, New York Daily News, and The Palm Beach Post.