17 employees at a Florida school district have died from COVID-19 since August

Surgical mask hanging inside school on locker.
Surgical mask hanging inside school on locker. Jena Ardell/Getty
  • Seventeen employees at a Florida school district have died from COVID-19 since August.
  • Of the 17 employees, 12 of them had returned to their jobs when the new year began in early August.
  • A spokesman from the district said it is unclear how the employees might have gotten sick.

Seventeen employees from a central Florida school district have died from COVID-19 since the school year began in August, according to multiple reports.

A spokesman from the Polk County Public Schools district confirmed the figure to Insider and said that of the 17 employees, 12 of them had returned to their jobs when the new year began in early August, while five didn’t report to their jobs.

“The pandemic continues to severely impact our community, and many public servants – including educators, healthcare staff, rescue workers, and law enforcement officers – are experiencing tragic losses,” the district said in a statement, according to NBC.

The district said it is unclear how the employees might have gotten sick.

According to the district’s dashboard, there have been 3,855 total confirmed COVID-19 cases since August 23, including 431 employee cases.

With 14,000 employees and over 100,000 students, it’s among the 30 largest school districts in the country, according to the district’s website.

As for preventative measures, the district said it is currently placing 50,000 desk shields in kindergarten through 5th-grade classrooms, according to local station News Channel 8.

Florida schools have been on the frontlines of a back-and-forth bout with Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has tried to ban mask mandates, Insider previously reported.

The district does not have a mask mandate and said in July that face coverings are optional for students and staff.