It’s official! Parents in Palm Beach County will have the final say on when their children return to the classroom when in-person instruction starts again.
The School Board announced the decision after a 6-1 vote late Wednesday afternoon.
Officials had considered a staggered approach that would have had the youngest students at each level (kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high school) be the first ones to go back to learning in person.
School Board member Dr. Debra Robinson went against the revised reopening plan.
Public comments from residents and teachers were heard leading up to the board’s vote. Some expressed concern about putting themselves at risk due to being immunocompromised, while others had concerns about school air condition and ventilation systems, and mask-wearing mandates.
Teachers, we look forward to seeing all that you accomplish this year! Tag us in your first day of pre-school selfies to show us how you're #GoingTheDistancePBCSD 💻 pic.twitter.com/ThOKNBWOeq
— PBCSD (@pbcsd) August 12, 2020
Palm Beach County’s school year is scheduled to start Aug 31. At that point, all students will be attending via distance learning only.
However, it’s not yet a done deal, as the district now must await approval for their plan from state education officials.
In-class instruction would then start one week after the county enters Phase Two of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ reopening plan. It is unknown when the county may move from Phase One.
Whenever students do return to campus, they must wear a face covering at school and when riding the bus.
Palm Beach County School District Superintendent Donald Fennoy says they are re-evaluating the way students will be introduced back into the classroom. Initially, the school district voted to not offer parents any option to send their kids back to the brick and mortar school. Only virtual learning was offered until South Florida entered into phase two of reopening. As a result, the county spent millions of dollars to equip every student with a laptop and internet connectivity.
Now, Dr. Fennoy announced he is amending his recommendation saying in-person learning will be parents’ choice and will take place when health conditions permit without any phasing of re-entry by grade level or program.
Dr. Fennoy has called for a special meeting of the school board Wednesday at 2 p.m to discuss re-entry options.
According to the school board’s agenda, Superintendent Dr. Donald Fennoy on Wednesday will present an amended plan that would have students “return to brick and mortar in-person instruction when county health conditions permit, to be based on parent choice, without any phasing of re-entry by grade-level or program.”
Under the School District of Palm Beach County’s current reopening plan, which has not been approved by the state, students would return to brick and mortar schools in a staggered approach once health conditions are safe.
The district originally planned on bringing students back in stages, starting with students in transition grades, including pre-K, kindergarten, first, sixth and ninth grades, as well as Exceptional Student Education centers and cluster sites.
The start of school in Palm Beach County has been delayed until August 31st. The majority of Martin County students returned to the classroom today.
Any plan will then have to be submitted and approved by the Florida Department of Education.