PALM BEACH, Fla. (WTXL) — Palm Beach County's new superintendent of public schools said 440 students have been quarantined because of COVID-19 after just two days of in-classroom instruction.
Speaking on MSNBC Thursday afternoon, Superintendent Michael Burke said there have been 51 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Palm Beach County schools since the 2021/22 academic year started on Tuesday.
Of those cases, 37 are students and 14 are employees.
Face masks are now mandatory for all students and staff members inside Palm Beach County public schools and on school district transportation. However, parents can opt their children out of wearing facial coverings.
Burke said Thursday that around 5,700 of the roughly 178,000 students in the School District of Palm Beach County have opted out of wearing masks.
Earlier this month, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an emergency order that gives parents the final say over whether their children should be masked in school.
"The governor's got to take responsibility for establishing the ground rules we're operating under," Burke said. "And this ability for families to opt out is leading to more cases, which is ultimately going to send more kids home and deprive them of that traditional classroom experience."
Burke added that if DeSantis is really committed to keeping kids in school, he should reassess the current situation.