More than 400 students in Palm Beach County, Fla., were required to quarantine just two days after schools began instruction due to an outbreak of the coronavirus, according to local officials.
Palm Beach County School Superintendent Michael Burke said in an interview with MSNBC on Thursday that since school began, 51 students and staff had tested positive for COVID-19, WPTV-TV reported. In total, 440 students have had to isolate.
The school district has required masks for all students and staff in its schools and buses. But parents can opt their children out of this requirement per an executive order issued by Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisCalifornia dreaming did not become reality for Republicans Florida landlord requiring proof of vaccinations from tenants Anthrax was the COVID-19 of 2001 MORE (R), NPR reported.
Of about 167,000 students who attend schools in Palm Beach County, 6,394 students as of Thursday have opted out of wearing facial coverings, WPBF reported.
During the interview, Burke said that school officials were monitoring the situation closely but noted they were concerned about the development.
"You're talking about, little over two cases per school on average," Burke said, according to WPTV. "That's a concern. I would say it's a potential growing concern, and we're monitoring it very closely."
Burke also voiced his frustration that parents were able to opt out of the requirement for their children and called on DeSantis to amend his executive orders.
DeSantis signed an executive order banning mask mandates in schools late last month, arguing that it should be the parents' choice whether their child wears a face covering indoors. Should local school officials instate mask mandates, they could be subject to budgetary and salary penalties.
"The governor has got to take responsibility for establishing the ground rules we're operating under," Burke said, according to NPR. "This ability for families to opt out is leading to more cases, which will ultimately send more kids home and deprive them of that traditional classroom experience."
Florida has continued to hit new records of daily COVID-19 cases and has become an epicenter of the pandemic in the United States. On Wednesday, the state reported its highest daily caseload yet with 24,753 infections.
The Sunshine State also saw 15,449 patients admitted to hospitals Wednesday, setting a new record from its previous one of 14,000 on Monday.