Charlotte County Public Schools student dies from COVID-19 complications

At least one Charlotte County Public Schools student has died from COVID-19.

Charlotte County School Chair Wendy Atkinson told WINK News a student died due to COVID-19 complications.

The date of death and the school where the student attended were not released by the Florida Department of Health-Charlotte County or by the school district.

Florida Department of Health-Charlotte Administrator Joe Pepe told WINK News there have been children who have died in the county but declined to get into specifics due to privacy reasons.

“We’ve had some fatalities from children. I don’t want to talk about specific cases just for privacy reasons,” Pepe said. “We’re… right now, we’re assessing those to see if it’s specific to COVID. Or if it was some other health condition, but COVID exacerbated it.”

The news comes as the Charlotte County school district and the school board decided Friday not to discuss or debate any mask mandates further. The board was looking into requiring vaccines for all teachers, as well.

Instead, the school district ultimately decided it will draft a letter saying they support the vaccine and mask-wearing, but both will remain optional.

Crystal Motuzas is a Charlotte County parent who’s glad this decision was made. “I was happy with their choice. They obviously realized that students are going to be students and they’re going to follow their friends,” said Motuzas.

The school district surpassed 1,000 reported cases of COVID-19 in student/staff since the first day of school on Aug. 10. That’s nearly double the number of cases in the entire 2020-2021 school year.

Tricia Duffy is a grandparent in Charlotte County and admits that this is terrifying. “This delta virus is really scary,” said Duffy.

Pepe says while the numbers may be shocking, they are consistent with what the county is seeing in other ages groups. “The increase that we’ve seen with our kids is consistent with what we’re seeing across all populations,” said Pepe.

“It seemed to me like they have a number of board members who wanted to make some modifications, but were anxious to [do] that to get their numbers down,” said Duffy.

The school board’s decisions on Friday means there will not be any further discussion about masks at a future meeting.

Reporter:Erika Jackson
Writer:Melissa Montoya
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