Pasco schools handling COVID well, leaders report

Superintendent of Schools Kurt Browning, as well as School Board members and the employee union president, spoke positively about the district’s reopening procedures during the coronavirus pandemic.

LAND O’ LAKES — As of Sept. 16, 78 Pasco County students and employees tested positive for COVID-19, which impacted a total of 1,507 individuals.

Superintendent Kurt Browning described those numbers as having “a significant impact” on all students and employees testing positive and all those having to quarantine for 14 days because of close contact.

“But it has been manageable and our planning has paid off,” he told School Board members recently. “And I want to repeat that: Our planning has paid off.”

Browning, as well as board members and the employee union president, spoke positively about the district’s reopening procedures during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I want to commend the vast majority of our students and staff who are doing the right thing,” Browning said. “From what I’ve seen and heard, our students and staff are wearing masks and social distancing when possible. People recognize the rules are in place to keep everyone safe and healthy and the vast majority are being careful and respectful of those rules we’ve put in place.”

Pasco School Board Chairwoman Colleen Beaudoin echoed comments from other board members who related visits to district schools. “I’ve talked to various school-based staff and I’m hearing positive reports about students wearing masks,” she said. “I’m not hearing complaints as far as students refusing to wear them, or even the little young ones that people were worried about.”

Browning provided an update on three drive-thru, rapid testing sites to open throughout the county. The first opened Sept. 16 at the district’s office complex in Land O’ Lakes. The East Pasco location at Pasco Elementary expects to open Oct. 21 and the West Pasco site at Gulf Middle the week of Oct. 28-Nov. 2. The testing sites will be for students and employees exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms and he said the types of tests hope to bear results either the same day or the next.

“As a district, we’re holding our own in this fight against COVID in our workplaces,” teachers’ union president Don Peace said. The United School Employees of Pasco “is pleased with the many protocols we have in place in this district to ensure student and employee safety and has been outspoken toward that end.”