Manatee students frustrated with postponed art performances as sports continue

MANATEE COUNTY (WFLA) – The highly contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus is impacting the Manatee County school system. The district is implementing additional proactive mitigation measures in an effort to slow the spread.

The positivity rate in Manatee County was over 30% on Tuesday, which is a record since the start of the pandemic. Before the students were sent away for winter vacation, the county’s positivity rate was 6.9%, according to the health department.

“The two days before we left for the winter holidays, we had 10 positive cases in our schools, four staff members and six students. The last two days of school we’ve had here in Manatee County, we’ve had 63 staff members and 255 students test positive at our schools,” said communications director Michael Barber. “This is a dramatic increase and we need to take additional steps to manage this increase.”

Performing arts students at Parrish Community High School found out on Tuesday morning that their long-awaited winter performance would not take place. It was scheduled less than 12 hours later and has yet to be rescheduled.

“The whole cast, you could see them walking around the school and the crew and everyone was heartbroken like all day. Slowly it turned into frustration,” the student said. in drama India Rawana-McKelvey.

The frustration stems from the district’s decision to postpone some co-curricular and extracurricular events, but not all.

When the Parrish Community High School performance was scheduled for Tuesday night, the school’s basketball and football teams were playing games as scheduled.

The students felt that was not fair.

“I think there’s a double standard in that they care more about the sport and they’re more willing to let the sport go on and the arts [are] just kind of taking the back seat from them,” said drama student Erin Osborne.

The district shared this message with parents, families and employees on Tuesday evening:

Tuesday’s COVID-19 positivity rate in Manatee County was over 30% — the highest rate on record since the pandemic began. That’s up from 28% last week, according to Manatee County’s Florida Department of Health.

In response, the school district is using additional proactive mitigations to reduce cases. Additional measures include reviewing all co-curricular and extracurricular events at our schools for possible rescheduling until a time when Manatee County’s positivity rate returns to a reasonable level. The updated restrictions will complement the mitigation measures put in place after the winter break, such as greater social distancing; limit non-essential visitors to school campuses; hold meetings virtually and provide access to testing sites at John Marble Park in Bradenton as well as MCR school health clinics at Manatee Elementary and Southeast High.

At this time, the Florida High School Athletics Association (FHSAA) has not canceled or postponed winter sports activities. We will continue to monitor updates from the FHSAA.

School district management will work closely with principals to identify events that can be postponed and rescheduled. The district’s goal is to provide a safe and healthy learning and working environment for all students and staff.

District leadership will continue to review and update COVID protocols based on feedback from all stakeholders and the Florida Department of Health.

“We are looking at everything. We will review all of these events and make what we believe are the best decisions for the health and safety of our students and staff. W will also review sporting events. We will do whatever needs to be done. We try to be as fair as possible,” Barber said.

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