At a press conference held at the Emergency Operations Center, Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner announced on Friday, Sept. 18 that he had signed a 28th declaration of a continuing state of emergency due to COVID-19.
“We’ve been at level 2 here at the Emergency Operations Center since March 16, and we are in day 186 of our activation,” Kerner said. “We’ve reached an important milestone. On Monday, Palm Beach County schools will re-open. This has been discussed at length by the school board.”
He said the school district and county’s health department will continue to analyze health metrics for a possible resurgence of COVID-19 or other health impacts to determine if the county can advance to Phase 3, which would allow the re-opening of additional entertainment venues. Currently, Phase 2 is still under effect, and face coverings and social distancing remain mandatory.
Kerner added that Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Broward county bars remain closed due to a higher population, while the rest of the state has re-opened bars.
School Superintendent Dr. Donald Fennoy said that more than 100 Palm Beach County schools re-opened on Wednesday for in-person instruction to ESE students, and all 179 campuses will re-open Monday for the general student population.
“The district has given our parents a choice,” Fennoy said. “Those who wish to have their children return to brick and mortar now have the opportunity on Sept. 21, and this will be the first time since March 13. Parents who wish for their children to remain in distance learning may do so as well.”
He said parents can change their preference at any time.
“It will take one week to accommodate a request to go from remote to in-person learning,” he said, adding that 59 percent, or roughly 85,000 students, will remain under remote or distance learning the first week, and 41 percent, or nearly 60,000 students, will return to brick and mortar.
School bus and campus modifications have been put in place, and facial coverings will be required for students and staff.
“Classes have been reconfigured to accommodate social distancing,” he said. “Traffic flow is clearly marked to maintain social distancing.”
Improved air filters have been installed where possible, and custodians will conduct more frequent sanitation.
“We also have great partners like our county, which will continue to support the district with any of the needs that we have,” Fennoy said, stressing that parents need to keep their children home if they are showing any symptoms of, or have been exposed to, COVID-19. “Students who show up with suspected symptoms will be isolated and their parents will be called to pick them up.”
He encouraged parents to read the new COVID-19 policy available at www.palmbeachschools.org/reopeningschools. A helpline is also available Monday through Friday at (561) 969-5840, with operators available to answer questions in English, Spanish and Haitian Creole.
All visitors to schools must be pre-approved, Fennoy said. Visitors who have been pre-approved will be subject to temperature checks and pass a series of questions before being permitted to enter the campus.