FLORIDA — Florida is tracking more children with the coronavirus, weeks before schools reopen across the state.

What You Need To Know

  • Pediatric hospitalizations up 23%

  • Positivity rate is 14.4%

The Florida Department of Health releases weekly data on pediatric cases. The most recent data shows nearly 8,000 more children have gotten the virus since the week prior. That is a 34 percent increase

More than 31,000 children ages 17 and under have had the coronavirus in Florida. Over the course of eight days, hospitalizations have increased by 23 percent, bringing the total number of children hospitalized to 303.

The percent positivity rate for children increased by 1 percent from the week prior, to 14.4 percent. The state’s overall positivity rate is 12.6 percent.

Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to push for schools to physically reopen, while giving parents options with virtual and hybrid offerings.

“I really believe that the teachers and the administrators that are there, they serve so many functions in the lives of our kids, particularly those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds,” he said in a press conference with Vice President Mike Pence on Monday. “If a parent believes distance learning is more appropriate now, perhaps their child has a health condition or perhaps they’re just not comfortable, they have a right to opt for that.”

Seminole County mother and former teacher Makenzie Oliver says the different teaching options that are being made available is "an incredible opportunity."

“We are going to see education completely revolutionized through this,” Oliver said.

As a former teacher, she is going to homeschool her youngest daughter while her middle schooler is opting for virtual learning and continuing her extracurriculars.

“The decision, honestly for my family, was very liberating,” she said.

While it may be liberating for some, others have found the situation a stress inducer. Teachers’ unions are fighting against the state’s reopening mandate and the debate rages on over safety.

The state has to approve every district's reopening plan, which they have until Friday to submit.

Meanwhile, DeSantis continues to tout low transmission rates among children, pointing to studies out of Europe.

But a recent study from South Korea disputes that, with findings that show that children ages 10 and up can spread the virus just as much as adults. 

Dr. Debra Birx from the nation’s coronavirus task force says more studies are needed to get to the bottom line.