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Vero Beach High principal hospitalized with COVID-19

STORY BY STEVE THOMAS (Week of February 25, 2021)
Photo: Vero Beach High School principal Shawn O’Keefe

Vero Beach High School principal Shawn O’Keefe has been hospitalized due to COVID-19, according to multiple sources who did not want to speak on the record.

His current condition is unknown. School district spokesperson Cristin Maddux wrote in an email, “Due to the HIPAA privacy rule, we cannot disclose individually identifiable health information of our students or staff members.”

Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital, where he is a patient, declined to provide information on O’Keefe’s condition.

Oddly, Vero Beach High School has not reported a teacher or staff member testing positive for COVID-19 for more than a month, according to a review of school district and Health Department records.

Either O’Keefe tested positive more than a month ago or the school district did not report his case for some reason.

One would have imagined that a principal of a huge school like Vero Beach High would have come into contact with a large number of staff members or students who would have been required to quarantined.

But the school district provided no information on quarantining as a result of exposure to O’Keefe, either.

While five students tested positive for COVID 19 at Vero Beach High on Feb. 16, there was no indication that this was related to O’Keefe.

Other school COVID-19 news this past week was more positive, and  the spread of the virus appears to have slowed in Indian River County’s public schools.

The week of Feb. 15-21 ended with 22 students testing positive for the virus, the same as the week of Feb. 8-14, school district records show.

Altogether, 137 students quarantined during the week of Feb. 15-21, School District records show. Five staff members tested positive for COVID-19, compared to two the previous weeks.

A total of 229 students and 57 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 in 21 public schools since the new school year started on Aug. 24, district records show.

That resulted in the quarantining of 1,971 students and 37 staff members who had come in close contact with the carriers.

The school district reports COVID-19 cases and quarantines for students and staff members going to school in person at public schools.

The Florida Department of Health tracks students and staff members involved in virtual learning programs, as well as those attending in person, in public, charter and private schools.

St. Edward’s School reported two students tested positive for COVID-19 between Feb. 7 and Feb. 13, state Health Department records show.

Altogether, the barrier island prep school has had 17 students, five staff members and two unknown people test positive for the virus since the school year started, Health Department records show.

So far this school year, 56 students, nine staff members and eight unknown people have tested positive at eight private schools in the county, Health Department records show.

The county’s seven charter schools have had a total of 79 students, five staff members and 11 unknown people test positive for the virus this school year, according to Health Department.