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Florida school district with thousands in isolation or quarantine calls emergency board meeting

High school students return on the first day of school, amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, at Hillsborough High School in Tampa, Florida, U.S., August 10, 2021. REUTERS/Octavio Jones

(CNN) — About a week after classes started, one Tampa-area school system has called an emergency meeting to discuss Covid-19 mitigation measures after about 6,000 people were told to isolate or quarantine.

Officials with Hillsborough County Public Schools said Monday morning that 5,599 students and 316 employees are in isolation or quarantine.

The school board said in a statement Monday it has called for an emergency meeting Wednesday afternoon to discuss the impact of Covid-19 and mitigation strategies including “mandatory face coverings for all students and staff.”

The district’s Covid-19 tracker says as of Monday evening, 804 students and 437 employees have tested positive for coronavirus since August 2. A total of 467 new cases were reported Monday alone.

Classes in the district, which is the seventh largest in the country and has 208,000 students, began last Tuesday.

On August 7, district officials announced they would require face coverings for the start of the year. However, parents were able to opt their children out of the requirement, according to a statement issued by Superintendent of Schools Addison Davis.

As of last Thursday, Hillsborough County Public Schools had received 27,915 opt-out submissions, according to school district spokesperson Tanya Arja.

The mask requirement is effective through September 3, officials have said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office has said the state could move to withhold salaries of officials who impose mask mandates in schools. The governor has said parents should decide whether their children wear masks.

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