Fletcher High extends online learning after COVID-19 outbreak

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Fletcher High School students will continue learning virtually at least through Oct.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Fletcher High School students will continue learning virtually at least through Oct. 28 in response to a growing number of cases of COVID-19 at the school, administrators said Monday.

Principal James Ledford informed families about the school’s plans in a message to parents Monday, which comes five days after the school shifted students to online instruction in response to multiple positive tests. Ledford’s notice said the Florida Department of Health was aware of more than 30 cases as of Sunday.

“Due to the high number of positive cases, it is difficult for the Department of Health to accurately identify all close contacts, but it is clear that the number of close contacts would exceed the district’s threshold requiring the school to isolate if more than 20 percent of the students are needing to quarantine,” the message said. “As a result, we will remain in online instruction through Duval HomeRoom through Oct. 28.”

RELATED: Fletcher shifts to online instruction after multiple COVID-19 cases

Administrators expect to bring students back to campus for brick-and-mortar instruction beginning on Oct. 29. Until then, all extracurricular activities including athletic practices and competitions have been placed on hold.

Added Ledford: “I do want to remind you that while we are in Duval HomeRoom, we will continue to follow our normal bell schedule. Students should plan to be engaged online at 7:15 a.m. On behalf of the leadership, teachers and staff at Fletcher, we will continue to work to make the online experience the best it can be.”

Before closing campus last week, the school acknowledged it was dealing with roughly 16 reported cases of COVID-19. In response, administrators ordered the school to be cleaned and the health department began performing contact tracing to determine who might have been exposed to those infected with the virus.

Later, the school district and public health officials disclosed that the positive tests were linked to off-campus activities. Dr. Pauline Rolle, director of the Florida Department of Health in Duval County, said all of the cases were traced to a party, some smaller gatherings and transmission within families’ households.

RELATED: DCPS links Fletcher’s COVID-19 outbreak to off-campus activities

“I’m not satisfied in that we are in a position that we had to close our school because of activity outside of the school,” Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene said. “I would be remiss if we didn’t reflect on this situation and demonstrate what happens when a community of students lets its guard down just for an evening.”

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