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More than 5,000 students, hundreds of employees in one Florida school district in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19

Photo by Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

More than 5,000 students in Florida's Hillsborough County Public Schools are in quarantine or isolation due to a massive spike in coronavirus infections as the 2021-22 school year begins.

Hundreds of district employees in the Florida school system are also in either quarantine or isolation.

The district, according to reports, serves more than 200,000 students in more than 200 elementary, middle, and high schools.

What are the details?

According to a Monday NBC News report, the massive number of people in quarantine or isolation either have tested positive for COVID-19 or have possibly been exposed to the virus.

"Isolation," a statement from the district explained, "refers to individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 while quarantine refers to those who have had close contact with a positive case."

Classes for schools in the vast district — the seventh largest in the United States — began last Tuesday.

At the time of this writing, the district's COVID-19 tracker tool states 847 students and 442 employees have tested positive for coronavirus since Aug. 2.

The tool reports that 399 of the student cases were reported Monday.

Hillsborough County Public Schools officials called an emergency meeting to discuss the possibility of instituting a mask mandate for all students and staff within the district in order to fight the dangerous COVID-19 spike in the area.

The meeting is set for Wednesday at 1 p.m. and will address preventive measures "up to and including mandatory face coverings for all students and staff."

According to WTVT-TV, the board will allow one hour of public comment at the meeting.

On Friday, Superintendent Addison Davis said, "We're going to make sure we still follow every statutory requirement, all the legal ramifications. But at the same time show that sensitivity with COVID in our community and put mitigation strategies in order to be successful."

Davis on Saturday added, "We must continue safety practices community-wide as we work to combat this virus."

Earlier in August, district officials announced required face coverings for the start of the school year, but pointed out that parents were able to opt their children out of the requirement if they so desired.

CNN reported that as of last Thursday, the district received at least 27,915 opt-out submissions.

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