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COVID-19 cases in Palm Beach County schools ‘manageable,’ superintendent says

Mike Burke, Jaden Williams
Mike Burke, left, Palm Beach County Superintendent of Schools, chats with Jaden Williams, 5, as Williams eats breakfast, Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021, during the first day of school at Washington Elementary School in Riviera Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

With the high rates of COVID-19 cases on campuses across Palm Beach County, Interim Superintendent Michael Burke laid out his academic priorities for the 2021-2022 school year.

“We knew we’ll have cases,” Burke said. “Right now, I think it’s manageable. We’re a big district, roughly 167,000 kids in our district schools.

Days before the first day of class, Burke implemented a mask policy while also providing parents with the option to opt-out.

He said school officials are working with vendors in providing more COVID-19 testing sites to help cut down on the spread of virus on school ground.

If students do contract the virus, they would not be marked absent.

Teachers have also stepped in by recording their classes and allowing students to dial in from home so they won’t fall behind.

Burke vowed to work closely with his staff in combatting issues with the start of the new year. He said he also continue to provide parents with the option to opt-out of the mask mandate.

The Palm Beach County School District is also working on a more “robust summer program” with federal COVID-19 funding.

The county has seen a 15% dip in math scores from the end-of-year exams, which officials said is a major concern.

The Palm Beach County School Board will have a meeting Wednesday evening to discuss the adoption of COVID-19 emergency protocols.