WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Palm Beach County public school students won’t be in school for two weeks, the school’s superintendent announced Friday. Next week’s closure is due to the threat of coronavirus; the following week, schools would have been closed for spring break.
“After continued consideration with Palm Beach County officials, the Florida Department of Health and my executive team, I have made the decision to close all Palm Beach County School District-operated schools effective Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 27. During that time we will continually evaluate that timeline and make decisions that are in the best interest of our students,” Superintendent Donald Fennoy, Ed.D., wrote in a statement.
He did state that SAT tests will still be administered Saturday, March 14 as planned. Fennoy said that the extended break will allow for the district to “thoroughly clean and sanitize our schools, offices, and buses.”
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It also affords the district time to figure out how to transition to digital and remote learning if schools need to be closed for an extended period of time. A technology survey will be sent home to parents to assess needs for remote learning if the schools need to be closed beyond March 27.
The decision to close schools came a day after the Florida Department of Health confirmed the first two cases of coronavirus in Palm Beach County, two men in their 70s who traveled out of the country.
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Many Palm Beach schools are designated polling locations for Tuesday’s primary election. The superintendent said there would be no interruption and that they will remain open as polling places.
Palm Beach County has the 10th largest school district in the country.
The district has a dedicated coronavirus website at PalmBeachSchools.org/Coronavirus. It has also set up a coronavirus hotline with representatives available to answer school-related questions in three languages: English, Spanish and Haitian-Creole. The hotline is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The number is (561) 969-5840.