Published On: Sat, Jul 4th, 2020

Palm Beach County School Board Members Discuss Delaying the 2020/21 School Year

As Palm Beach County surpasses 15,000 COVID-19 cases, the question of whether to reopen schools in the fall remains. 

On Wednesday, June 24, school board members discussed whether the 2020/21 school year should be delayed but did not vote on a decision. However, they agreed to discuss it further at future meetings.

District 7 school board member Dr. Debra Robinson presented the idea of delaying the start of the 2020/21 school year, which is scheduled to begin on Monday, Aug. 10.

“If the numbers continue to increase, my personal opinion would be that we need to stay out of schools. I am very hopeful that with the recent changes that have been made, first by the county  in terms of insisting that people wear masks in public places and now with the department of professional regulations preventing people from standing in bars and socializing and drinking that that should I hope will remind people that we are in midst of a pandemic and we do have to take precautions, and I am hoping that the numbers come down,” stated Dr. Robinson. 

Photo by: New Jersey 101.5

According to the Florida Department of Health, there are a total of 187,090 positive cases of COVID-19 in Florida and 16,149 in Palm Beach County alone as of July 4. 

 Under these conditions, Dr. Robinson stated, “If we were in school now, I would be pushing for us to close school. There is just no way under these conditions that I would suggest that we open schools.”

The School District of Palm Beach County is discussing three education plans for when students return: full-time classroom instruction, full-time distance learning, or a hybrid model that would involve students being in the classroom two days a week and at home for distance learning the other three days a week.

In the Wednesday virtual board meeting school board member Karen Brill suggested starting the school year after Labor Day in September. Dr. Robinson did not specify a specific date for  when she would like the start of the school year delayed until but says she is planning a personal set of metrics that she suggests the board goes by. 

 “I am very clear that we cannot open school the way it was before. I am very clear that we will have to maintain social distancing and we will have to set the expectation that everybody has facial coverings. In addition to providing the means by which there is additional hand washing and other precautions that decrease people from coming in contact with each other,” Dr. Robinson said in an interview. 

In addition to monitoring rising case numbers, the School District of Palm Beach County said it received survey responses from 66,348 parents and guardians and 16,434 staff members on feedback for how they would like to see schools reopen for the 2020-21 school year.

According to the survey results, 45.8% of parents support delaying the start of the school year beyond the current start date of Monday, Aug. 10. 33.6% of parents do not support delaying the school year, and 20.6% are unsure. Meanwhile, 59% of staff members support delaying the “physical return” to work until after Aug. 10.

A final decision on the format of the 2020/21 school year is set to be made on July 15 by officials.

About the Author

- I am currently a junior at Florida Atlantic University majoring in multimedia studies with a journalism concentraion. I am a Newsroom Writer for the Boca Raton Tribune with a passion for investigative journalism work and sharing stories within my community.

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