Tampa Bay schools report 7,100 COVID cases for the week, a pandemic record

Public schools in the Tampa Bay area continue to report soaring COVID-19 case numbers, setting a record for the pandemic this past week.

The 7,098 cases reported in Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties topped the previous weekly high of 5,420 recorded during the week ending Sept. 3

The area already was on pace to shatter last year’s case total of 17,242 cases for the four school districts.

Infections driven by the highly contagious omicron variant are causing a large number of absences among both students and staff

 The percentage of substitutes filling in for regular teachers, known as the “fill rate,” is down across the area.

In normal times, districts could expect daily fill rates of 70 to 80 percent. 

In Hillsborough and Pinellas this week, fill rates hovered around 50 percent while Pasco’s rates were around 40 percent.

One of the more short-staffed days was Thursday, when Hillsborough had 1,626 teacher absences but could deploy only 767 substitutes.

Pasco schools had 746 teacher absences that day but only 275 substitutes showed up to fill the void.